The steady increases in student numbers seen in the Monett R-1 School District did not reflect a trend for all districts. Both the Pierce City and Verona school districts recorded notable declines in student counts on the first day of classes on Aug. 16.
Pierce City's tally, not counting the pre-school level, counted 658 students back for the first day, a drop of 21 from a year ago. Except for the pre-school, the drop was all in the upper grades. Kindergarten held at above 50 students in three of the last four years.
The big news at Pierce City this year is the opening of the new middle school, facing Adams Avenue.
"There was a lot of excitement on the first day, having new facilities, especially for the transitioning sixth grade class," said Superintendent Dr. Alan Cornman. "There's definitely a time of adjustment, as there is with any building transition."
Cornman said the new building has created smoother movement of students around the campus. Only the Eagle Buddies study hall class goes outdoors, which will help during inclement weather. Bus traffic remained in the same location, but may be an additional 10 to 15 feet out.
"I think we've had a very successful first couple days," Cornman said. "The kids are back into a new routine. Overall, I see a sense of excitement, particularly with the students who know they are the first of that class going to the new building. We're proud of how it went."
First day numbers follow, with a comparison to the first day a year ago in parentheses: Pre-kindergarten, 38 (-17); kindergarten, 52 (+5); first grade, 48 (-8); second, 48 (-11); third, 59 (+9); fourth, 47 (same); fifth, 45 (+3); elementary total 299 (-2).
Sixth, 47 (+1); seventh, 46 (-19); eighth, 70 (+13); middle school total, 163 (-5).
Ninth, 60 (-4); 10th, 56 (+16); 11th, 39 (-9); 12th, 41, (-17); high school total, 196 (-14).
Verona saw a drop in every class level on first day. The student count for all grades of 392 represented a 32 student decline.
Superintendent William Sweet said many students moved out of state, mostly at the elementary school. With an increase in student numbers at the start of the last two school years, Sweet was not concerned about the longterm impact of a low opening.
"Numbers are fluid until Labor Day," Sweet said. "We'll survive."
A bigger concern was running a smooth operation with half the teachers at the elementary level new this year. Sweet said the day ran smoothly anyway.
"We had no problems. I'm looking forward to a good year," Sweet added.
First day numbers follow, with a comparison to the first day a year ago in parentheses: Kindergarten, 24 (-7); first, 32 (-1); second, 28 (-10); third, 35 (-3); fourth, 33 (-1); fifth, 27 (-10); sixth, 36 (-10); elementary school total, 215 (-22).
Seventh, 27 (-9); eighth, 36 (-12); ninth, 42 (-14); 10th, 27 (-3); 11th, 21 (-4); 12th, 24 (-2); high school total, 177 (-10).