Student enrollment nearly unchanged in Polk schools

Published 4:50 pm Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Polk County High&squo;s enrollment is 733, down from 740 last year and 755 two years ago. But part of the decline at the high school can be attributed to the creation of the virtual early college, the first school of its kind in the state.

The school, which gives students a chance to earn up to two years of college credit at no cost by the time they graduate from high school, started last year with 20 students and added 12 more this year. After operating in a classroom within the high school last year, the virtual early college now has its own building, operating in the former Polk library on Walker Street in Columbus.

Polk County Schools Supt. Bill Miller has said he expects the school to eventually have about 80 students or more after four years. Miller says the former library building has the space to accommodate that level of enrollment. He adds that growth at the early college reduces enrollment at the high school, and helps alleviate the need for additional space there.

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Polk Central had the biggest gain in enrollment this year, gaining 13 students for a total of 454. Polk Central is up 23 students from two years ago.

Overall, Polk County Schools enrollment, including pre-K students, is 2,622, up just seven from last year, but up 44 from two years ago. The total without pre-K students this year is 2,495, up 14 from last year.

Polk County Schools Supt. Bill Miller has said the school district&squo;s enrollment has been in line with the district&squo;s forecasts for growth. He says the district sees an unusually small or large class every few years, but otherwise class sizes remain consistent.

The class sizes this year for K-8 are: K 190, 1st grade 216, 2nd grade 197, 3rd grade 186, 4th grade 183, 5th grade 200, 6th grade 186, 7th grade 186, 8th grade 186. Polk Central has the largest kindergarten class this year with 77, followed by Tryon Elementary at 61.

Class sizes at the high school level are: 9th 245, 10th 185, 11th 177 and 12th 158.