Monett student numbers keep climbing

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Scott Tech strategies helping to retain more students

End of September enrollment figures at Monett schools have risen over the previous year in both 2016 and 2017, and 2018 is continuing the record-setting trend.

The September number is what the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education uses to determine funding for the district for the year. No state funding cuts appear likely this year due to numbers. With the September count at 2,340 a year ago, the district opened this school year with 2,390 students.

The first day count at the Scott Regional Technology Center has never provided much of an indicator for the year. Sending schools often take at least a week to sort out which students will stick to their plans to attend career and technical training. Director David Miller had numbers at the end of the first month to offer insight on his campus.

“I’m pretty comfortable with where we are, compared to the last five years,” Miller said. “We’re right at the five-year average. Typically we accept a lot of students. By the time we have orientation, some of those kids don’t come.

“This year we did not accept as many students. We were 30 to 40 students less. We changed our orientation from the fall to the spring. We had above average attendance in the spring, above 80 percent. Typically we haven’t had that many in the fall. I felt we did a better job vetting the students. We retained a higher percentage than usual.”

Not counting the JROTC students from Monett who attend for only an hour, Scott Tech had 470 students this fall, 345 from sending schools and 125 from Monett High School. Last year there were 476 students, 358 from the sending schools and 118 from MHS. The previous year the number had been 468, with 20 more students from Monett.

“We’ve done everything we always did,” Miller said. “We worked with the counselors closer and did a better job than last year getting the right kids in the right place. We did a lot of public relations over the summer, contacting students. We’d always like to have more taking advantage of what we offer, but I’m pleased to be where we are.”

Total enrollment at Scott Tech was 478, with the lowest number of one-hour Monett JROTC students in four years. The grand total the lowest in five years, though the total of sending school students is at a five-year average.

The school district has 17 bus routes this year, the same as last year. One route has six more evening miles in the afternoon than the morning, and another has 14 more miles in the afternoon.

Daryl Bradley, as dean, provided the board with the transportation program evaluation. As program strengths he cited better communication between building administrators, parents and drivers, allowing quick reactions to route timing and safety needs.

“The drivers go to an 8-hour training every summer that is put on by the Southwest Center for Educational Excellence,” held on three different days in two locations, the report said. Bradley further noted implementing a change of address form signed by a parent before a switch of buses is allowed has helped communication between drivers.

Overcrowding, resulting from more students riding the same number of routes, continues to be an issue. Congestion at the high school with buses and cars mixing at the same time in the afternoon has been an ongoing concern. A shortage of drivers and substitutes remains.

Bradley said he is seeking a way to help drivers verify the actual number of students on the bus without delaying traffic that would cause an unsafe environment during loading and unloading.

To help congestion at the high school, Bradley suggested taking one of four approaches: widening David Sippy Drive, moving bus riders to the east side of the campus, ending the school day earlier at 3 p.m. so that cars would leave ahead of the 3:15 bus arrival, or restricting traffic in the circle drive from 3 to 4 p.m. to buses only.

Bradley further recommended having parents provide transportation to students who live within a quarter mile of their school to reduce the number on buses. Adding two or three bus routes would otherwise support the present student load. He further suggested providing new driver bonuses to attract more drivers.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: