Enrollment spikes with 30 more kids
by Gregory R. Norfleet · News · October 12, 2012

Enrollment popped up by nearly 30 pupils to 837.3 this year at West Branch Community Schools, according to new figures released this month.

West Branch reported 807.9 pupils the year before, 29.4 fewer than counted in the certified budget enrollment this year.

The figures are still tentative, but Business Manager Angie Morrison said the final figure will not be far off.

“A lot of aspects of this are encouraging,” Superintendent Kevin Hatfield said.

The official head count enrollment is even higher — 868.1 — counting all children who receive some form of instruction in or through West Branch’s public school.

While this is the highest enrollment since the 1999-2000 school year, the 2012-13 figures include preschool. This is only the second year West Branch has counted preschool.

Board President Mike Owen noted that the figures are “a little misleading” when compared to historic data, but still considered the number “good news.” Certified budget enrollment is key to state funding for schools.

Preschool pupils are counted as 0.5 pupils since they only attend part-time.

Without preschool, West Branch counts 815.3 pupils. The decimal figures represent pupils who do not attend school full-time, but are still served by certain programs or participate in extra-curricular activities though schooled at home.

The largest grade level this year is 11th grade — high school juniors — with 71.4 students. The smallest class is eighth grade, with 52 pupils, a difference of nearly 20 pupils.

The largest population of boys — 34 — is a three-way tie between kindergarten, sixth and 11th grades. The smallest number of boys is 20 in eighth grade.

The largest number of girls — 37 — is found in fourth grade, while the smallest number — 21 — is in first grade.

West Branch has 792 children who are white, 17 Asian/Pacific Islander, 22 black, 33 Hispanic and five American Indian/Alaskan native.

Girls outnumber boys by 442 to 427, a difference of 15.

Enrollment by grade/program:

Preschool special education 2

Statewide preschool 22

PreK 9

Kindergarten 62

First grade 52.4

Second grade 55

Third grade 57.4

Fourth grade 67.8

Fifth grade 57.8

Sixth grade 66

Seventh grade 64.5

Eighth grade 52

Ninth grade 59

10th grade 66

11th grade 71.4

12th grade 70

Project Vital 3

Total 837.3

Not counting preschool, West Branch enrollment since 1999 has fluctuated from a low of 769.2 in the 2007-2008 school year, to a high of 829.5 in the 1999-2000 school year.

Board member Richard Paulus, who reads weekly to kindergarten pupils, said he has noticed while walking through the halls that there are “so many little people underfoot.”

Hatfield agreed.

“I’m sure the principals are feeling it,” he said.

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