enrollment

Teachers welcome students on the first day of school at the Norfolk Middle School on Aug. 4 this year.

Now that school has been back in session for a few months, the Daily News staff thought it would be interesting to see how enrollment numbers have changed.

A short survey was sent to 24 schools in Northeast Nebraska. Eighteen of them experienced increases, while six had decreases.

Of those that increased, Howells-Dodge Consolidated Schools led the way with a 9.96 percentage increase between the fall of 2018 and 2019.

When asked if anything in particular contributed to the increase, Mark Ernst, superintendent and principal of Howells-Dodge, cited available housing, parents willing to travel to jobs in Norfolk, Fremont and Columbus (a 35- to 45-minute drive each), job opportunities in the vicinity of Howells and Dodge and option enrollment.

Other districts with high enrollment increases included Randolph Public Schools (6% increase), Elkhorn Valley Schools (5.67%) and Madison Public Schools (5.25%).

Madison Superintendent Alan Ehlers said there were a number of reasons for increased enrollment in his district.

“We have had a number of new workers at the Tyson Fresh Meats plant find housing in our district, along with a increase in the number of students who desire to option-in from Norfolk,” he said. “The district is also in the middle of a building addition at our middle school/high school location that has attracted a few more families.”

O’Neill Public Schools had the largest decrease in enrollment: 3.42%. O'Neill Superintendent Amy Shane commented, “The ICE raid in August of 2018 may account for some of the decline.”

Some administrators reported making strategic efforts to increase enrollment. Battle Creek Superintendent Jake Luhr said his school’s strategic planning team developed a goal of making Battle Creek Public Schools the “school of choice.” “Our increasing enrollment is one indicator that we are making progress toward reaching that goal,” he said.

Schools also were asked whether their school boards had engaged in any unification discussions. Of the 24 schools surveyed, four are engaged in cooperative agreement discussions involving activities and/or staffing. Of these four schools, only one showed a decrease in enrollment. Change in enrollment seemed to have little effect on the need for co-ops.

Schools surveyed: Battle Creek Public, Bloomfield Community, Clarkson Public, Creighton Public, Elkhorn Valley Schools, Hartington-Newcastle Public, Howells-Dodge Consolidated, Humphrey Public, Madison Public, Nebraska Unified Number 1 (Clearwater, Orchard and Verdigre), Neligh-Oakdale Public, Norfolk Public, O’Neill Public, Osmond Community, Pender Public, Plainview Public, Randolph Public, Valentine Community, Wakefield Public, Wausa Public, Wayne Community, West Hold Public, West Point-Beemer Public, Wisner-Pilger Public.

Norfolk Public Schools

Enrollment fall of 2019: 4,530

Enrollment last school year: 4,446

Percentage increase: 1.89

If a significant change in enrollment, any factors that can be pointed to as contributing to the situation? This is an increase of 84 students (almost 2%), which is consistent with the trend that we have seen in enrollment since 2011.

Creighton Public Schools

Enrollment fall of 2019: 292

Enrollment last school year: 283

Percentage increase: 3.18

Humphrey Public Schools

Enrollment fall of 2019: 237

Enrollment last school year: 240

Percentage decrease: 1.25

Wakefield Public Schools

Enrollment fall of 2019: Pre-kindergarten (3- and 4-year-olds) — 74 students; kindergarten through sixth grade (elementary) — 260 students; seventh through 12th grade (high school) — 217 students. Total — 551 students.

Enrollment last school year: 540 students total, a gain of 11 students so far this year. Pre-kindergarten through sixth grade — 333 students, up one student; seventh through 12th grade — 207 students, up 11 students.

Percentage increase: 2.04

The increase this year is primarily due to new students entering the district for other schools in Nebraska and out of state.

Wakefield Community Schools is not in any discussion of school consolidation (merger), although it is discussing sports cooperatives with Allen Consolidated and Emerson-Hubbard.

O’Neill Public Schools

Enrollment fall of 2019: 791

Enrollment last school year: 81

Percentage decrease: 3.42

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement raid in August 2018 may account for some of the decline.

Madison Public Schools

Enrollment fall of 2019: Pre-kindergarten-12 — 541

Enrollment last school year: 514

Percentage increase: 5.25

“We have had a number of new workers at the Tyson Fresh Meats plant find housing in our district, along with a increased in the number of students that desire to option-in from Norfolk.

“The district is also in the middle of a building addition at our middle school/high school location that has attracted a few more families.”

Nebraska Unified No. 1 (Clearwater, Orchard and Verdigre)

Enrollment fall of 2019: 428

Enrollment last school year: 439

Percentage decrease: 2.51

Clearwater and Orchard are in discussions with Ewing about a possible merger. A bond election passed in November, and the school districts are moving forward on a merger.

Wayne Community Schools

Enrollment fall of 2019 — 980

Enrollment last school year — 948

Percentage increase: 3.38

If a significant change in enrollment, any factors that can be pointed to as contributing to the situation? We are experiencing growth in our community.

Elkhorn Valley Schools

Enrollment fall of 2019: 429

Enrollment last school year: 406

Percentage increase: 5.67

Randolph

Enrollment fall of 2019: K-12 is 246, pre-K-12 is 265

Enrollment last school year: K-12 232, pre-K-12 250

Percentage increase: 6 pre-K-12, 6.03 K-12

“Not a significant change, just a positive trend in our lower grades.”

Howells-Dodge Consolidated Schools

Enrollment fall of 2019: 276 (pre-K-12)

With two parochial schools, one in Dodge and one in Howells, that provides more student enrollment for district after the completion of sixth grade in their respective districts.

Parochial schools’ approximate current enrollment:

St. Wenceslaus in Dodge: 30 (K-6)

Howells Community Catholic in Howells: 42 (first-sixth grade)

Enrollment last school year: 251 (pre-K-12)

Percentage increase (disregarding parochial school info): 9.96

“We have increased our enrollment by 25 students this year. We can attribute that to housing being available, people willing to travel to work being equidistant to Norfolk, Fremont, Columbus (35- to 45-minute drive), job opportunities in the vicinity of Howells and Dodge, option enrollment, etc.”

Pender Public Schools

2019 fall enrollment (Grades pre-K-12): 390

2018 fall Enrollment (Grades pre-K-12): 400

Percentage decrease: 2.5

“No significant change … slight increase but mostly steady… which is awesome!

“One important item to note is that our enrollment has flipped within the last 10 years, so steady growth is expected.

“Ten years ago, we had large high school classes and small elementary classes. The small elementary classes have made their way into the high school. Now we have small high school classes and large elementary classes. To articulate this, in the 2006-07 school year, the district split one elementary grade (sixth grade) into two classes, and the rest of the grades were all one class. Pender now has only one elementary grade (sixth) that isn’t split into two classes, and that class has 25 students. In other words, it could be split. We elected to not split that class because it grew from 21 to 25 from last year to this year.”

Valentine Community Schools

Enrollment fall of 2019: pre-K-12 — 621

Enrollment fall of 2018: pre-K-12 — 607

Percentage increase: 2.31

If a significant change in enrollment, any factors that can be pointed to as contributing to the situation? “Enrollment is up a little this year compared to last year. We have a large kindergarten class.”

Neligh-Oakdale Public Schools

Enrollment fall of 2018: 380 pre-K-12

Enrollment fall of 2019: 382 pre-K-12

Percentage increase: 0.52

West Holt Public Schools

Enrollment fall of 2019: pre-K-12 — 447; K-12 — 407

Enrollment fall of 2018: pre-K-12 — 430; K-12 — 395

Percentage increase: 3.95 pre-K-12, 3.04 K-12

“Small senior class graduated.”

Clarkson Public Schools

Enrollment fall of 2019: 215

Enrollment fall of 2018: 212

Percentage increase: 1.42

Is your district's school board engaged in any merger or unification discussions? “We are co-oped with Leigh for activities and share some classes.”

Bloomfield Community Schools

Enrollment fall of 2019: 260

Enrollment 2018: 254

Percentage increase: 2.36

“Many new ELL (English Language Learners) and migrant students have enrolled.”

Hartington-Newcastle Public Schools

Enrollment fall of 2019: 380

Enrollment last school year: 370

Percentage increase: 2.7

Wausa Public Schools

Enrollment fall of 2019: 227 (K-12)

Enrollment last school year: 229 (K-12)

Percentage decrease: 0.87

“We currently are working on cooperative agreement discussions in activities/staffing with several districts surrounding us.”

Osmond Community Schools

Enrollment fall of 2019: 193

Enrollment fall of 2018: 189

“Our enrollment has not fluctuated much over the past three years. When coupled with the students enrolled at St. Mary's Catholic School, our numbers are closer to 230 students.

“Currently, the Osmond Board of Education is not involved in any talks with neighboring districts involving mergers or consolidations. Our board is open to sharing programs and personnel when it benefits our students or we can be of assistance to others (for example, play production and FFA with Wausa).

Plainview Public Schools

Enrollment this year: 314

Enrollment last year: 312

Percentage increase: 0.64

Wisner-Pilger Public Schools

Enrollment fall of 2019: 440

Enrollment last school year: 434

Percentage increase: 1.38

Battle Creek Public Schools

Enrollment fall of 2019: 466 pre-K-12

Enrollment last school year: 450 pre-K-12

Percentage increase: 3.56

“We have seen a steady rise in pre-K-12 enrollment since 2013-14, when our enrollment was 395. I attribute the recent increase in enrollment to our high quality of education, extracurricular activities and our work-based learning opportunities in high school. As a result of our recent strategic planning process, the strategic planning team developed a goal of making Battle Creek Public Schools the ‘school of choice.’ Our increasing enrollment is one indicator that we are making progress toward reaching that goal.”

West Point-Beemer Public Schools

Enrollment fall of 2019: 730

Enrollment last year: 749

Percentage decrease: 2.54

“Not a significant number, had a large senior class and a smaller kindergarten class.”

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