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Sarasota Thursday, Sep. 1, 2011 6 years ago

Student enrollment higher than expected

by: Rachel Brown Hackney Managing Editor

Sarasota County School District administrators last week were pleased to see their first official enrollment count higher than projected, unlike the 2009-2010 school year, when the district lost state funding because of lower enrollment.

Deputy Chief Financial Officer Al Weidner, who has been with the district more than 25 years, said although the official count in October will determine how much state funding the district ultimately receives per student, the five-day count, as of Aug. 26, for the regular district schools — excluding alternative and charter schools, for example — was 35,903. The projected enrollment was 35,420, so the district had 483 more students enrolled so far for the 2011-12 school year, he said.

With every type of school in the district counted, the enrollment figure was 41,201 as of Aug. 26, compared to the 41,088 projected, giving the district a total of 113 extra students.

Weidner said he planned to present the figures Monday to other district administrative staff during their regular cabinet meeting. The weakened economy had resulted in smaller student counts since 2007, and this year’s numbers don’t necessarily represent growth.

“We’re more or less flattening out now,” he said. “We’re not really growing.”

Riverview High School had 101 fewer students than projected, with a five-day count of 2,654. Still, it has the highest student count of the district’s six high schools. North Port High, in second place with 2,340 students, had 64 more than projected.

Riverview Principal Linda Nook, who is marking her 11th year at the school, said the student decline actually is related to Riverview’s popularity. Of all the district high schools, she said, Riverview was the only one for which officials elected to go with the status quo from the 2010-11 school year, instead of projecting lower enrollment.

Three factors that had contributed to the smaller five-day count, she said, were the closing of the school to ninth-graders in the school choice program; the acceptance of fewer students in the highly regarded International Baccalaureate Society program for intensive study; and the decision not to make it automatic for a family with a child in the 10th or 11th grade to be able to enroll another child in ninth grade.

“We’re at capacity,” Nook said.

Click here to view an enrollment graphic.

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