By the 2023-24 school year, Norfolk High is projected to grow by 107 students, and the junior high by 40 students.
This is one of the insights Dr. Jami Jo Thompson, superintendent of schools, shared in a report to the Norfolk Public Schools board of education Monday night. In addition to discussing an official 2019-20 enrollment report, the board approved a few items to help accommodate the district’s growth, especially at the junior and senior high levels.
The district’s total enrollment increased from 4,446 to 4,573 in the 2019-20 school year, an increase of 127 students, Thompson said. Preschool enrollment increased 73 students from 190 to 263, and K-12 enrollment increased 54 students from 4,256 to 4,310.
The majority of enrollment growth happened at the secondary level, with 40 more students at the senior high and 32 more at the junior high. Conversely, middle school enrollment decreased by six and elementary enrollment collectively increased by eight.
District administrators have addressed staffing needs at the elementary and middle school levels over the past several years and are setting their sights on expanding staff at the junior and senior high schools. By 2023-24, administrators also expect to see 70 more students at the elementary schools, especially Grant, Lincoln and Washington, according to projections provided by RSP & Associates, a school consulting firm in Overland Park, Kansas.
Based on findings and recommendations presented at a staff retreat on Oct. 31, Thompson requested the following staff positions to be added in the fall of 2020.
— One elementary teacher at Lincoln Montessori, to address the second track at that building.
— Three junior high teachers.
— One special education/reading teacher at Lincoln Montessori and parochial schools the district serves.
— Converting one part-time music teacher to a full-time position at elementary
— One instructional coach to use primarily at the secondary level.
— One behavioral interventionist to coordinate Multi-Tiered Systems of Support processes in the district and work with educators.
— One director of student services and safety.
The costs for staff salary and benefits total about $550,000. Thompson said if future state aid and tax receipts are similar to those received this year, adjustments could be made to their existing budget to fund that staffing increase that is proposed. Funds also could be reallocated from the existing levy by shifting dollars from the general fund to cover staffing expenses.
The district received $11.5 million in state aid this year. This is $2.2 million more than last year, but less than the amounts it received in the 2002-03 and 2010-11 school years, Thompson said at the district’s annual budget and tax hearings in September.
Board member Tammy Day acknowledged the administrative team’s thoroughness in putting together the staffing requests.
“There is nothing frivolous about anything in here, and in fact there are many more positions that are needed that will have to wait,” she said. “I do appreciate you carefully weighing how we get the best bang for our buck and presenting that so thoroughly.”
The board also approved the purchase of a house at 700 W. Maple Ave. for $150,000. Thompson said the property is twice as big as a house right next to it bought last month for $75,000.
Collectively, the properties could open up more than 100 more parking spaces, said Dr. Bill Robinson, associate superintendent. The school now has 383 student parking spaces for 1,371 students.
The agenda items are part of ongoing efforts to accommodate the growing district, Thompson said.
“We are continually evaluating our staffing needs and our facility needs as we grow to make sure that we are providing the best education possible for our students,” she said.
In January, the board approved the addition of 24 positions in the district. Most of these were at Little Panthers Preschool, which opened a new facility in August.