Mitchell’s enrollment grows by 50After long decline, district experiences fourth year of growth.
By: Chris Mueller, The Daily Republic
Mitchell students may have a harder time finding a seat in their lunchrooms this year.
Preliminary counts show enrollment at the Mitchell School District for the 2012-2013 school year is up by about 50 students compared to last school year, according to Superintendent Joe Graves.
“It’s a little more than I thought,” he said. The district had a “surge” in enrollment late in the summer, Graves explained, adding about 15 students shortly before the start of the school year.
The district’s total enrollment this year is between 2,580 and 2,600 students, Graves said. An exact total won’t be available until the state Department of Education certifies the numbers for all districts statewide.
Mitchell School District’s enrollment declined all but one year between the 1999-2000 and 2008-2009 school years, but has increased every year since.
Enrollment has gone up the most at the elementary level, Graves said, especially in the district’s kindergarten classes — promising news for future enrollment in the district.
“You’re going to tend to have that larger class go all the way through your school,” Graves said.
Higher enrollment means the district will receive more state aid, which is given out based on the number of students a district has. An increase of 50 students will equate to about $225,000 in additional state funding, $4,500 per student. But increased enrollment also means increased expenses, Graves said.
Although the school does what it can to attract and retain students, Graves admitted in many instances adding students is out of the district’s control.
“The No. 1 factor that determines our enrollment is birth rate,” he said.
Children younger than 5 make up about 7.4 percent of Mitchell’s population, slightly above the statewide figure of 7.3 percent, according to the 2010 census.
Other factors, like the economy and housing availability, are also important, Graves added.
“The fact that housing is very tight causes enrollment issues for all the schools in Mitchell,” he said.
The district has hired two additional elementary school teachers to accommodate the extra students and is investing in new textbooks and other equipment. By continuing to make investments, Graves hopes to continue creating what he calls a “positive educational environment” that contributes to strong enrollment.
“Do a good job and you will get students,” he said.