A look at Groveport Madisons enrollment

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Groveport Madison enrollment

School enrollment

Asbury 519

Dunloe 387

Glendening 506

Groveport 515

Madison 408

Sedalia 518

MS North 474

MS South 514

Junior High 507

High School 1,548

Eastland-Fairfield 253

Virtual Learning 170

TOTAL 6,319

(Numbers as of March 31, 2008 provided by Groveport Madison Local Schools. Groveport Madison’s total enrollment in 2006-07 was 5,999.)

The Groveport Madison school district is a big, both geographically and by the number of its students. But what do the district’s enrollment numbers mean?

The numbers

"According to the January 2008 official enrollment report from the Ohio Department of Education (ODE), our district has grown by 69 students this school year over last," said Groveport Madison Superintendent Scott McKenzie. "Our district’s growth has remained near the 6,000 student threshold since the late 1990s. This year our official student enrollment is 6,068. Last year our official enrollment was 5,999 students." (For figures as of March 31, 2008, see sidebar.)

"While our district enrollment numbers fluctuate somewhat from year to year, they are fairly stable," continued McKenzie. "This school year is no exception. At this time, I do not predict a large increase or decrease of students next year in our school district."

The rise of charter schools and the growing popularity of other types of private schools have had an impact on Groveport Madison’s student numbers.

"According to the ODE, there are 729 students who live in the Groveport Madison school district who attend a charter or community school," noted McKenzie. "Additionally, there are 153 students that live in our district who attend other school districts due to Ohio Open Enrollment regulations. We also transport approximately 1,000 students who live in our district to private or parochial schools."

In reviewing Groveport Madison’s enrollment numbers by grade level, the freshmen class is unusual in that it is much larger than any of the other grade levels. McKenzie said this is because of a change in how students are categorized and reported to the state.

"If a student does not have the number of credits needed to officially be designated a sophomore, he or she continues to be assigned the freshman status until those credits are recaptured," explained McKenzie. "Since the high school began this designation process this year, student numbers for our freshman class look higher than the rest of the grades."

School board viewpoints

The Southeast Messenger posed several questions to the Groveport Madison Board of Education regarding the enrollment numbers and condition of the district. Here are their responses:

Do you think the school buildings in the district are overcrowded?

•Dr. Naomi Sealey: "Some of our classes at some of our buildings are at a 30/1 pupil/teacher ratio, but most of our classrooms are closer to a 24 or 25 to 1 pupil/teacher ratio. We know that fewer students in our classrooms will help our overall educational program; however, there is no quick solution to lower our class sizes in the near future because of the district’s tight budget. At the high school the board voted to eliminate split sessions. As a result, there is an increase in the number of students in the building during the traditional school day. So, areas like the gym, cafeteria, restrooms, library, and other common spaces are taxed due to student numbers."

•Duane Dailey: "The district’s school buildings were originally designed for more students than what are now occupying them. Classroom crowding has been created by curriculum additions (special needs, computers, etc.) without long range planning."

•Mary Tedrow: "I think that the high school is definitely too small to serve its 1,600 students. The halls are too narrow, especially with the lockers in the halls, and the cafeteria is too small. We also have to consider the condition of our schools and whether we can afford to maintain and improve them or should we build new ones. For example, our high school and three elementary schools are not air conditioned. At the high school the second floor and the rooms adjacent to the auditorium (closing off the windows) are stifling in the summer. The flat roofs are hard to maintain. The middle schools and two elementary schools lack real partitions, making it difficult to hear."

•Nathan Slonaker: "No. Enrollment data shows that there has been a decrease in district population since our last new building. (6,644 in 1978 verses 5,557 in 2007). However we do realize that curriculum has changes since then, requiring more space and more resources. Added to this equation are the implementation of all-day kindergarten and the rise of students requiring special education resources."

•John Kershner: "It is obvious that the (former superintendent) and our previous board created crowding to push the agenda for new facilities. We are not overcrowded by way of enrollment. However, the district crowded the students up by moving the fifth grade students into the middle schools and the middle school students into the old high school (freshman building) and the freshman into the high school. We were told that putting the children back at the elementary would take many modular classrooms and they simply would not fit. The new board is working with our staff was able to fit all of the children in the original K-5 configurations with preschool and all day kindergarten. I believe this shows that by working together we can better address our space issues. With all day kindergarten and preschool in the K-5 buildings we are fully utilizing the elementary facilities. I believe that our facilities need to be addressed and updated, however I believe the current board will take an honest and reasonable approach."

If you think the schools are overcrowded, why do you think enrollment is growing? If you think the schools are not overcrowded, why do you think they are not?

•Sealey: "The Ohio School Facilities Commission has just completed a 10 year projection of student growth for us. They believe that our district will not grow substantially through 2018, nor will it decline in any great measure. So, we believe that our student numbers projection will be stable for quite some time. The reason we are not growing is because of the growth of the charter school concept. Increased enrollment in charter or community schools has kept our enrollment flat and should continue to do so."

•Dailey: "I do not believe we are experiencing a growth in population. If anything, there may be something of an exodus going on, Once again, the elimination of classrooms has allowed for classroom overcrowding."

•Tedrow: "I am not sure that our enrollment is greater than it was when I was on the school board in the 1980s. However, because our schools are expected to do more for more students, we need more space than we did in the ’80s. For example, with Ohio providing the funding, Groveport Madison can now offer all day kindergarten. So, instead of one room serving 50 or 60 children in a day, it can now only serve 25 or 30. That doubles the number of kindergarten rooms from 10 to 20."

•Slonaker: "While the general district population has grown over the past 30 years, this growth has not been felt in enrollment. One can find many reasons to attribute to this; primarily the development and growth of private and charter schools. However, often overlooked is the possibility that we may be an ‘aging’ district. This means a smaller portion of the population are rearing school aged children. That would allow for an increase in total distinct population with stagnate enrollment numbers."

•Kershner: "There has not been enrollment growth in many years. We continue to face competitive pressures from other districts, private and charter schools. The charter school next to our high school is rapidly adding grades and will be configured for K-12 in the coming years. This takes many students from our enrollment and buildings. I fully support the idea of competition in education and believe that it forces districts to perform."

What actions are the board considering to ease crowded conditions?

•Sealey: "We currently have an adequate number of classrooms and classroom teachers for the number of students we educate in the Groveport Madison Schools. The buildings that house grades Pre-K through 8 can adequately handle the enrollments that they receive. At the high school, modular classrooms have been added in order to provide the number of classrooms needed to eliminate split sessions. Next year, the high school will begin the small learning communities’ concept for all incoming freshman students. This program will enable almost a quarter of our students to be housed together in a block of classrooms instead of placed all around the building. This new concept will also lower the number of students in hallways during class changes since most of the time, the small learning communities teachers will move to the students at class change, instead of the students being released into the hallways."

•Dailey: "Since some of the current classrooms are experiencing overcrowding, this issue demands immediate attention. The best, quickest method I know of, is the use of modulars. Future planning, of course will require permanent structures and can be accomplished when the district budget allows it to happen."

•Tedrow: "We need more space for special education classes with the number in a unit being less than in a regular class. We also need office space for the counselors, Title One Reading teachers, speech therapists and ESL teachers. Since computer instruction is now required in all grades, it is preferable to have computer labs large enough to serve an entire class up to 30 students. In the 1980s we did not even have computer labs in the elementary schools. At least one elementary school does not have a computer lab that will serve 30 students."

•Slonaker: "At the high school, we will continue to use modular classrooms in the short term. A variety of long-term solutions exist, but the board has not currently given this problem must attention. This does not mean it isn’t a serious issue, only that it isn’t an urgent priority."

•Kershner: "The board recently began a series of workshops to set our goals and priorities for the district. We have also started the process of receiving space and financial audits from the state and the Ohio Schools Facilities Commission."

Do you foresee the board asking the voters to approve a bond issue in the near future? If so, what do you envision being built – an new school building or building additions? Or would the district consider purchasing an existing building to refit into a school?

•Sealey: "We believe that we must first get our financial house in order before we concern ourselves with the question of whether or not we build or retrofit our existing buildings."

•Dailey: "There can be no doubt that construction and or additions must take place. The financing for any new structures will not allow the board any choice but to ask voters for levy approval."

•Tedrow: "Talking about asking the taxpayers to pay more money for schools is divisive for the board and the community. Soon we will be receiving a report from the state on an audit of our school facilities, at which time we will learn if we are using our schools efficiently and what is needed to bring them up to today’s standards for education."

•Slonaker: "The board is most concerned about managing its current finances to peek efficiency. It would do the district no favor to build a new school and not have the financial resources to operate it. If and when a bond issue becomes inevitable, the board will turn to the parents and community to best guide their decisions."

•Kershner: "That’s to be determined."

Considering the district’s financial situation, is the board considering placing a levy on the ballot in November?

•Sealey: "There are still pieces to our financial puzzle that must be in place before we can adequately answer that question. Our treasurer, Anthony Swartz, has been looking at our overall financial situation and will develop his first five year forecast for our district in May. Secondly, the State Auditor’s Office will be completing a major performance audit of the district in the summer. The information that we get back from them will be extremely valuable in helping to determine whether there are any cost-saving measures that the auditors believe can be initiated that can save tax dollars. So, until these two important pieces of information are delivered to us, we will be hard-pressed to make any informed decisions about a levy or any other kind of funding increase."

•Dailey: "The board has been ‘considering’ a levy for more than a year. November seems too soon since it has been a major concern of the scholastic status of Groveport Madison Schools and other issues that exist internally. The important thing to consider will be to present some positive news that will give the community an opportunity to support the district for better educational opportunities."

•Tedrow: "We are in the exploration period of should we place an operations levy and/or a bond issue on the ballot, and if so when, how much and for the operations levy how long?"

•Slonaker: "Many questions must be answered and processes completed before the board would consider a levy in November. A clearer picture of our financial situation will emerge as the summer approaches. The board will use that information and the community’s response to guide a decision on any levy."

•Kershner: "That’s to be determined."

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