HANCOCK COUNTY — More than 1,000 kindergartners — the most the county has welcomed in at least five years — could join local schools by the time class begins in early August.
Kindergarten enrollment in Hancock County is on the rise, educators say. At last month’s kindergarten roundups — which serve as early registration days for youngsters starting school for the first time — educators in every district reported a higher number of students registering for school than in recent years.
Last year, 910 kindergartners enrolled county-wide; this year, districts expect to reach 1,000 or more.
Educators guess about 20-35 percent of each kindergarten class registers after roundups; with 716 students enrolled so far, that could bring the class of 2030 to as many as 1,100 students, prompting preliminary discussions about hiring more teachers.
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The influx is welcome news for schools countywide; it signals a growing community and funnels more state funding into local school systems to support new programs and staff, educators say.
At about $5,800 dollars allotted per student by the Indiana Department of Education, the estimated 200 additional kindergartners could result in an additional $1.1 million county-wide to pad school budgets.
Mt. Vernon and Greenfield-Central Schools are forecasting the largest increases.
Mt. Vernon educators expect more than 300 kindergartners will join the class of 2030, an all-time high for the growing district, which had 273 last year. Across the county, Greenfield-Central educators expect enrollment to increase to more than 330 youngsters after seeing the kindergarten population drop about 15 percent — from about 350 to 295 — between the 2014-15 school year and last year.
The increase in first-time students will result in a few new hires at Mt. Vernon elementary schools, and a new teacher or two might be necessary at other county schools.
Mt. Vernon Superintendent Shane Robbins said he’s watching the numbers closely, saying it’s hard to guess just how many new families will move into the district between now and the start of the school year, given the number of new homes being built in McCordsville and Fortville.
But the district is already preparing five classrooms that are currently empty at Fortville Elementary to house students in the fall.
Hiring a handful of new teachers will follow, Robbins said — how many will depend on the district’s plans to redraw the elementary school boundaries to balance student populations. The district will begin posting open positions in coming weeks, he said.
“I’m in a unique situation,” he said. “This is an exciting time to be at Mt. Vernon School Corp.”
Greenfield-Central schools saw its smallest kindergarten class last school year, when the number of students enrolled at the district’s four elementary schools dropped from about 350 to under 300.
This year, the district saw a small increase of about 15 students, and educators are forecasting an even larger increase next year, said Superintendent Harold Olin.
Educators expect to see a kindergarten class between 335 and 340 students.
With students spread across the district’s four elementary schools, new teachers likely won’t be necessary, Olin said. If one school sees a large increase, the district might have to create a new position. Administrators will know more by July, Olin said.
Greenfield-Central’s student enrollment boomed in the early 2000s when Greenfield’s population spiked, but numbers have been stagnant in recent years, Olin said.
Twenty-five new students will be a nice boost, he said.
At the county’s smaller school districts — Eastern Hancock and Southern Hancock — the kindergarten population is gradually growing, educators say.
Last year, Southern Hancock’s number of little learners grew by 11 students across the corporation; Superintendent Lisa Lantrip said she expects to see a similar increase next year.
About 189 students came out for kindergarten roundups, with New Palestine Elementary and Brandywine Elementary reporting a few more students than last year at roundup, she said. Sugar Creek Elementary registered the same number — 68 –of students as 2016.
At Eastern Hancock, some 73 kids signed up during the elementary’s early registration, and a handful of parents have made appointments to sign up their children since, said principal Amanda Pyle.
The school has four kindergarten classrooms, and though there will be a few more students than this year, another section likely won’t be needed, she said.
The number of students enrolling for kindergarten at county schools is on the rise.
More than 716 students have already signed up to start school in August, and schools are enrolling more students every day.
Here’s a breakdown of students enrolled at districts so far:
Mt. Vernon: 254
Southern Hancock: 189
Eastern Hancock: 73