School enrollment tops 6,587
By By Thomas Tingle
Record Managing Editor
More than 6,587 students are enrolled in the Madison City Schools for the 2002-2003 year.
Several schools are experiencing an increase in enrollment this year with others indicating a slight decrease in its enrollment from last year's figures.
The city's largest school, Bob Jones High School, has an enrollment of more than 1,468 students this year. The school's principal, Sam Rombokas, said enrollment is up by 50 students this year and it is expected increase over the next few weeks.
"We're expecting to average between 1,470 to 1,480 students this year in grades 10,11, and 12," Rombokas said. "Bob Jones High School is the fifth largest school in Alabama. When you look at the fact that we have three grades in our school with more than 1,468 students, this is a big place. However, we are able to deal with the increased enrollment."
20 classrooms, along with a new band room, culinary arts school, ROTC room and auxiliary area, a health care science room and a new biology lab are currently under construction on the north end of the campus. Rombokas said the addition would be completed by Jan. 1, 2003.
Madison's second largest school, Heritage Elementary School, currently has 906 students enrolled this year and it is projected to reach 920 students in the next few weeks. Lydia Davenport, principal at Heritage, said enrollment at her school is up by nearly 100 students and seven new teacher units were added.
"We've added two kindergarten classes, two second grade classes, one sixth grade class, one fourth grade class, one third grade class, a half time counselor and one physical education aide," Davenport said. "We are beginning to see students enrolling here at Heritage from the newest subdivision under construction out here – Buckingham."
Davenport said it's all about planning and organizing that has allowed the traffic flow inside and outside move freely.
"We don't have traffic jams in our hallways because we've planned and organized in such a way to prevent this from happening," Davenport said. "You would never know we had this many students in our building."
Discovery Middle School Principal Ronny Parker said 740 students are enrolled at the Hughes Road campus this year. There are 237 students in the seventh grade, 248 students in the eighth grade and 255 students in the ninth grade.
"Enrollment this year is up and we could gain an additional 10 to 12 students now through the Labor Day week," Parker said.
This is the first year for Parker to serve as principal at Discovery Middle School. Parker served 14 years at Bob Jones High School. A majority of the time he served at Bob Jones High School was done in the Discovery Middle School facility when it was originally Bob Jones High School.
"Being familiar with this facility and knowing what worked and didn't work regarding the traffic flow situation here, a long with a fantastic staff and our traffic control people, has helped in getting our students in on time and in the classroom by 7:40 a.m.," Parker said. "We made some changes in our traffic pattern around the building this year that has helped significantly.
Horizon Elementary School Principal Linda McGinnis said 682 students are enrolled this year. That number is down by some 20-plus students from the 2001-2002 year. McGinnis said the school averaged 710 students last year.
"Our first day back to school went wonderfully well. We had no glitches at all," McGinnis said. "Our enrollment this year is slightly down, but we are using all of the space available in the building."
McGinnis said the rezoning Heritage Elementary School and Rainbow Elementary School contributed to the decrease in the number of students attending her school, which houses grades K-6.
"We went from 35 homeroom teacher to 34 homeroom teacher units this year, but at the end of September, Horizon Elementary School will offer a pre-school class for 4-year-olds who are considered at-risk students," McGinnis said. "We will have complete details of this pre-school class at the first of September."
An increase of more than 50 students has brought the enrollment figure at Liberty Middle School to 874 students. Sally Bruer, principal at Liberty, said two half time and two full-time teacher units have been added this year for social studies, science, and math and language arts.
"Are school has continued to grow each year since it's been open 12 years, "Bruer said. "This year, we've added a seventh grade chorus class and a new ninth grade computer class."
Bruer said the first day of school went well and expects some fluctuation in the enrollment numbers for a few more weeks.
Mary Long, principal at West Madison Elementary School remembers when the Wall-Triana Highway campus held more than 970 kindergarten and first grade students. Upon the opening of Heritage Elementary School and Horizon Elementary School, West Madison's enrollment numbers were among the highest in the Madison County School System.
"This year, we've got 489 students enrolled here at West Madison and I don't expect the number to go up," Long said. "We have the exact number of teacher units as what we had last year. A plus to the beginning of this school year is the fact that we had a lot of wonderful renovations done to the campus. The students and all of us are very excited about what has been done here. The kids love the automatic flushing toilets in the new bathrooms and our little tower out front makes us look like a school."
"Long, who has served as the school's principal for 10 years, said she doesn't expect to see West Madison to increase in enrollment, nor lose a significant number of students in the near future.
Madison Elementary School Principal Theresia Mullen said enrollment is slightly up with 624 students enrolled. Mullen said readjustments in classes allowed for the addition of one half-time teacher unit bringing the total number of homeroom classes at Madison Elementary to 30.
"We've experienced an increase in enrollment from the new Eagle Point Apartments and once the other apartment complex is build off Kyser Boulevard, we expect to see our numbers rise again," Mullen said. "I don't foresee a significant rise in our enrollment, but we won't know until this new development is completed."
At Rainbow Elementary School, north Madison's newest school campus, and entering its second school year, the school's principal, Bart Ferguson, said 797 students are enrolled for the 2002-2003 school year.
"We are up in our enrollment numbers since last year, but we averaged between 780 and 790 students last year and I expect us to see a gradual climb in enrollment up to Labor Day, then, it will fluctuate throughout the year," Ferguson said. "We added one third grade, one second grade and one first grade teacher unit this year, bringing the total number of homerooms to 39."
Ferguson said there is room for growth at Rainbow Elementary School and the extension of Nance Road from U.S. Highway 72 has significantly helped in the traffic flow in and out of the campus.