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Schools report enrollment up this year
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Lyman Hall Elementary’s Neusa D. Wendt works with her students during their Building Resources for Intellectual Development and Guided Empowerment of Students (BRIDGES) class Tuesday afternoon.
Enrollment in the Gainesville and Hall County school systems grew slightly this school year, which superintendents say is a good thing following lower than expected enrollment growth last year.

Hall County Superintendent Will Schofield said the system gained 155 new students this year according to October Full Total Enrollment counts, pushing the system’s population to 25,625 students. Gainesville Superintendent Merrianne Dyer said the system gained more than 50 new students this year, bringing the system’s population to 6,444 students.

“We are relieved that we did not lose enrollment,” Dyer said. “That was our fear.”

The state Department of Education uses the October and previous March Full Total Enrollment numbers to determine how much school systems receive in state funds. Both school systems are on track to qualify for a small mid-year adjustment check from the state in April.

“I was encouraged by the fact that we gained just a little. It’s a very manageable number,” Schofield said.

Last year, the Hall school system gained only about 50 students, which contrasted sharply with previous years in which the system had regularly been gaining 400 to 800 new students a year.

Schofield said the growth this year was steady across county schools and across age groups. Dyer and Schofield said the growth mirrored the systems’ existing racial makeups.

Dyer said there was no indication that Hispanic enrollment decreased in Gainesville schools.

She said none of Gainesville’s seven schools lost enrollment. Fair Street IB World School and Gainesville Middle grew, but New Holland Core Knowledge Academy experienced the most growth with 62 more students compared to last year. New Holland remains the system’s smallest elementary school with 657 students and Centennial Arts Academy remains the system’s biggest elementary school with 824 students.

Schofield said in Hall schools, the number of students identified as gifted increased significantly this year. About 30 percent more students will receive instruction in a gifted classroom environment compared to last year, he said.

He attributes the spike to better trained teachers who can identify students with gifted abilities and to higher student achievement. The Hall County school system has created a locally endorsed gifted course for teachers headed by system rigor specialist Sally Krisel.

The growing BRIDGES program at Lyman Hall Elementary School exemplifies the system’s goals in identifying students, especially minority and low-income students, who have gifted abilities, Schofield said.
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