Jeff Elliott, supervisor of instruction K-12, said the overall school population has increased by roughly 75 students since May. Friday’s numbers revealed an overall district enrollment of 5,217 students. Elliott said definitive numbers will be further assessed on Monday, the 10th day of school.
Last year’s largest grade level was kindergarten with well over 400 students. This year saw a slight decrease in the number of kindergarteners enrolled in the school.
Michael Kahrs, supervisor of data management, explained grade level sizes tend to fluctuate. Increased elementary grade level sizes ranging from 400-450 have been prevalent in recent years. The impact of a larger population has been felt at the elementary school for years.
Kahrs and Elliott said this will be the first year Cleveland Middle School feels the full impact. Each grade level has more than 400 students, placing the current school population over 1,200. Friday’s enrollment numbers revealed 428 enrolled sixth-graders, 405 enrolled seventh-graders and 404 enrolled eighth-graders.
Cleveland Middle School was designed to fit 1,200 students comfortably. The school can handle up to 1,400 students. This many students would mean turning auxiliary rooms like art and music into classrooms. Elliott said he does not feel there is an issue of CMS exceeding its limit in the near future.
However, growth is anticipated at both the middle school and high school levels as larger elementary classes rise to the next grade.
Kahrs explained the population increase currently being seen at CMS will hit the high school over the next three years. Numbers have already seen an increase at a smaller level.
“If our numbers hold true, this year could be our largest graduating class in the history of Cleveland,” Elliott said. “We have never had one over 300, and there are about 311 [seniors] right now.”
According to Friday’s numbers, the current grade level populations are as follows: 383, ninth grade; 358, 10th grade; 384, 11th grade; and 311, 12th grade.
Some of the growth is due to larger class sizes.
Elliott explained the record-breaking number can also be attributed to another area.
“A shout out to the people at our high school and our Teen Learning Center staff for making every effort focusing on getting these students graduated,” Elliott said. “They are basically making individual plans with these students saying, ‘Hey, we want you to graduate. What do we need to do to keep you on?’”
Both Kahrs and Elliott praised the Cleveland Board of Education for their foresight in building needed schools to handle the district’s population growth.
“As far as Cleveland High School, I am excited we added the science wing,” Elliott said. “That helps us accommodate for the large number right now. If our board had not taken the initiative when they did, then we would be in a tight spot.”
Kahrs explained most of the elementary schools are currently over the building capacity. Mayfield Elementary has already had to turn its art classroom, music room and a guidance counselor room into additional classrooms.
A new elementary school would ease the stress felt throughout the elementary level, according to Elliott and Kahrs.
“I would agree the new school will alleviate the overcrowding at the elementary and put us in position to attack the next growth, whether it is from development [housing] or larger elementary classes.”
Continued Kahrs, “I appreciate how the board is always trying to make sure we are set up to be ready for the next challenge.”