By Dedra Cordle
The South-Western City Schools District has seen an increase in student enrollment over the past five years. Officials predict that trend will continue well into the future.
According to Kevin Laffin, the director of certificated personnel, the district currently has 20,685 students being educated throughout their buildings. By the 2019/20 school year, there will be nearly 1,000 more.
At a recent board of education meeting, Laffin said boundary changes, the expansion of surrounding communities and participation in the all-day kindergarten program are the most likely factors contributing to the steady increase in enrollment.
At the elementary level, growth is projected throughout the next five years, more so than the intermediate, middle or high school levels. Laffin said all-day, every day kindergarten – which the district predicts will be popular based upon feedback from parents – is the reason why the elementary level will see a greater increase of students.
Laffin added that this increase will make way for growth at the intermediate and middle levels in the near future, but until that happens the middle level is projected to see a decline in student enrollment.
To counterbalance the projected growth, the district plans to hire more staff.
Carl Metzger, the assistant superintendent, says the district is expected to bring on an additional 43 employees to its staff next year. Most of the new employees will be hired for the elementary level.
Metzger also reported that they would add five additional staff to the English as a Second Language program and two additional staff to the special education program to meet the demand for a projected growth in enrollment.
In other news, the district will seek bids to upgrade amenities at several schools. Among the items listed are locker replacements at Grove City and Westland High Schools, gymnasium bleacher replacement at Grove City and Westland High Schools, replacement of the running track at Franklin Heights High School and asphalt paving at Central Crossing, Grove City and Westland High Schools, along with Brookpark Middle School.