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School enrollment flat in Hall County, up in Gainesville
0812ENROLLMENT2
Gainesville City Schools buses leave Gainesville High School on Thursday afternoon, making their way up Rainey Street. Enrollment at Gainesville schools has increased slightly with about 200 more students in the early days of the 2016-17 year than the numbers they ended with last year. Hall County School District enrollment has remained flat.

So far this year, Hall County schools have about the same number of students and Gainesville schools have about 200 more than they did at the end of the year.

Officials in both school districts cautioned that enrollment is fluid and will be for another few weeks.

Enrollment in Hall County was 27,005 as of Thursday. Hall County had 26,994 students the same day in 2015.

Gainesville had 8,148 students Thursday afternoon. Officials reported having 7,938 students in the spring, and early registration was 8,015 in July.

Both school districts added teachers for the 2016-17 year.

In Gainesville, teaching positions were added for the high school and for New Holland Knowledge Academy.

Gainesville Superintendent Wanda Creel said Thursday the city school system maintains two counts: students who show up for class, also known as “warm body count,” and those enrolled.

Thus far, she said, 7,853 have shown up for class — in 2015, that number was 7,930 at the beginning of the year.

Gainesville High School has grown, as anticipated. The school had 2,166 students enrolled, a jump since 1,945 last year.

Creel added, “We expect to continue to see students join us all the way until after Labor Day.”

Priscilla Collins, chief professional services officer, said the district also will verify residency of students until Aug. 30. After that date, students will be withdrawn from class until the paperwork is complete. — Two proofs of residency are required, and more information is available at the district website, www.gcssk12.net.

Hall County’s numbers also are expected to increase through Labor Day, Aaron Turpin, the district’s technology director, said.

He said Flowery Branch High School had an increase of 94 students for a total of 1,743. It is the largest high school in the county system.

Johnson High School had 61 more students — not the 165 reported to the school board Monday. That larger number was a clerical error, Turpin said. Johnson’s total enrollment was 1,551.

Hall County Superintendent Will Schofield said the correction of the error at Johnson made the numbers more like what he expected. He noted other projections were about as expected.

The only question now, he said, is “why our kindergarten numbers continue to be low. I don’t know what the answer to that is, but we’re digging beneath the surface.”

Turpin said East Hall Middle School also had an increase of 54 students. Decreases were registered at Martin and Lanier elementary schools and at North Hall Middle School.

He said North Hall is now the smallest middle school in the county by enrollment. Davis Middle School is the largest with 1,186 students.

The county’s ninth-grade class is large, Turpin said, calling it “an anomaly.”

Chestnut Mountain Creative School of Inquiry has 65 more students, and Spout Springs Elementary is down 49 students — both likely the result of a redistricting of students that occurred last year.

Spout Springs remains the county schools’ largest elementary with 776 students.

“Let’s talk again in a month,” Turpin said. “I still think we’ll be up (in numbers).”

Creel noted that Gainesville Middle School had 1,783 students enrolled, and 1,767 had attended class — the smallest difference between the two numbers, she said.

Creel said the school district encourages parents to help students get to school and into the routine.

“Instruction takes off immediately, so having students in the classroom day one is how we can help children be successful,” she said.

She also said the district is putting positive behavior intervention support in place at all the schools. She emphasized students are getting reinforcement in PBIS throughout the district — classrooms, hallways, cafeterias and on buses.

“We have four words that we’re really emphasizing — ready, responsible, respectful and role model,” Creel said.

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