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Gainesville school numbers may be growing
Early indications show student surge in kindergarten, fourth-grade classes
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Gainesville school system officials are bracing for what they believe may be growing enrollment in the city’s elementary schools.

Superintendent Merrianne Dyer told the city school board Friday morning that, despite statewide warnings that enrollment would be lower than normal this year, it actually may have grown in Gainesville.

"We appear to be growing everywhere," Dyer said.

Dyer told the board that enrollment is up in nearly all the system’s schools, but said to particularly expect large class sizes for kindergarten and fourth-grade students, a result of what seemed to be "a surge in enrollment this last week," before the school year begins Tuesday.

"The grades that appear to have grown the most, if everyone who is enrolled comes the first day, are kindergarten and fourth grade," Dyer said. "Why that is, I don’t know."

School officials had planned for lower enrollment, staffing schools "conservatively" because of projections that the area’s population had declined because of a lack of jobs in the economic recession, Dyer said.

"If you’ve been to any open houses, it doesn’t look like that," she said.

In an average year, the school system plans for about 250 to 300 new students, Dyer said. She said Friday that city school officials are hoping that the growth they are seeing is within that normal range.

"If we exceed that, it will be a surprise," she told the board.

Actual enrollment numbers will not be certain until 10 days into the school year. School officials then will know whether they need to adjust to class sizes, Dyer said.

If they are needed, most adjustments will be internal, she said. Individual schools will have discretion to decide how to handle changes in enrollment. Dyer said she does not anticipate such adjustments will require hiring more staff.

"As I said, on the first day you never know how many of those that enrolled last February will be there," she said.