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Student count continues to rise in Monett

Friday, August 17, 2012

The first day count of students in both the Monett R-1 and Purdy R-2 School Districts, which opened on Wednesday, showed positive trends for both districts.

Monett Superintendent Brad Hanson reported a total of 2,341 students attended classes on Wednesday in pre-kindergarten through grade 12. A year ago, the count of first-day attendees was 2,306. The enrollment count on the books on opening day was 2,432, compared to 2,416 a year ago.

Hanson reported the count represented growth in Monett's student number for the fifth consecutive year, setting a new record.

Hanson was pleased with the totals and the smoothness of the first day of classes.

"The traffic situations are the big concern in the morning and the afternoon," Hanson said. "More parents want to bring their children in on the first day, especially at the elementary level. It took a few minutes longer at Monett Elementary, but it smoothed out."

On opening day last year, buses went to the north entrance by the new office and parents went to the old circle drive on the east. This year, the buses went to the east and most parents used the north entrance. Principal Susie Gasser explained the change at the open house and found parents adjusted without too much trouble.

Numbers provided by the district for attendance represented a mix of students present plus enrolled students who were certain to return. The third and fifth grades saw drops of at least 12 students from a year ago. Kindergarten, eighth and 10th grades rose by at least 12.

The numbers suggest the population at the middle school will increase, Central Park Elementary will decrease, and the other campuses will remain about the same.

In positive trends, the kindergarten class was the second largest in the district, only four under the record class at the seventh grade. The number of kindergarten students has held at more than 180 in three of the last four years, suggesting a strong influx of students to support the district in coming years. The record number hit 204 in 2006, which is the current seventh grade class.

First day counts follow, with a comparison to first day a year ago in parentheses: pre-kindergarten, 102 (-1); kindergarten, 184 (+12); first grade, 179 (same); second, 172 (+6); putting Monett Elementary at 535.

Third, 163 (-12); fourth, 184 (+10); putting Central Park Elementary at 346;

Fifth, 170 (-18); sixth, 183 (+5); putting Monett Intermediate at 353.

Seventh, 188 (-1); eighth, 181 (+18); putting Monett Middle School at 369.

Ninth, 172 (-6); 10th, 169 (+16); 11th, 146 (-5); 12th, 149 (+11); putting Monett High School at 636.

Numbers at the Purdy R-2 School District, which has seen some of the sharpest changes in the past five years, held even with last year's start. One more student was counted on Wednesday, putting the first day tally at 648.

In the past four years, the Purdy first day numbers have varied by 15 students, holding between 642 and 657. The steady count reflects a drop from the 2008 first day tally of 681.

Dr. Steven Chancellor, the new superintendent, watched the traffic patterns and arrival of students for the first time and found the experience exhilarating.

"There's nothing like the first day of school. I love it," said Chancellor.

According to reports reaching Chancellor, the opening was one of the smoothest in several years. Chancellor credited holding the elementary school open house on Tuesday, before classes began, with making the process easier.

"We were more organized," Chancellor said. "On Tuesday, kids got to find their classrooms and their seats and bring in supplies. Parents got to meet teachers ahead of time. When classes started on Wednesday, I looked in on the kindergarten class at 9 a.m. and they were already teaching."

Enrollment will be a major focus point for the coming year, Chancellor said. The drop has led to even tighter school budgets.

First day numbers showed positive trends. The elementary school started with 242, its highest number in three years. The kindergarten class of 54 was the second highest count in the last five years.

The middle school came within 10 students of the 2010 count on first day. The high school had only one fewer student that a year ago.

First day numbers at Purdy follow, with a comparison to 2011 in parentheses: kindergarten, 54 (+15); first, 48 (-13); second, 53 (-1); third, 48 (+5); fourth, 39 (+1); fifth, 37 (-10); sixth, 51 (-4); seventh, 53 (+9); eighth, 46 (same).

Ninth, 39 (-15); 10th, 57 (-6); 11th, 61 (+3), 12th, 62 (+17).

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