Beginning day enrollment for the various public, private and upper education institutions operating in Cherokee County have remained equal to or are greater than the previous year, with the exception of one district, which is still dealing with loss due to a natural disaster in April.

“Alto ISD's 2019 school enrollment is down 21 students from 2018,” which then was 670 students, said district official Paula Low. “We attribute it to our displaced students from the tornadoes of April 13 – simply put, some families just never returned after leaving town to stay with friends and family.”

Jacksonville ISD, the largest district in Cherokee County, posted an opening day enrollment this year of 4,707, rising to 4,998 as of Sept. 26, thanks to last-minute enrollment.

Last year, opening day enrollment was 4,859; both this figure and current day enrollment post as the highest JISD has ever had, according to JISD public information officer Grace Traylor.

She attributes the increase in enrollment to larger classes, especially at the elementary campuses.

“We have 17 classrooms requiring a TEA classroom-size exemption waiver (and) we will also be adding an additional Pre-K teacher/classroom to accommodate the higher number of Pre-K students enrolled this year,” she noted. “We are thrilled to see such a significant increase and believe it to the result of the many things Jacksonville ISD emphasizes, such as program choices for parents and students, dedicated staff and high quality education opportunities right here at home.”

Bullard ISD also is posting strong gains this year: In 2018, opening day enrollment was  2,605, while opening day numbers for this fall were 2,643. As of Sept. 23, the district has a student body of 2,673, said district public information officer Angie Stinson.   

Like Jacksonville, Bullard's programs are drawing families to that area.

“Bullard ISD is an attractive district for a variety of reasons including, outstanding educational opportunities focusing on the needs of all students, a welcoming community, the location of our district for the convenience of parents, and a thriving housing market with many new subdivisions available for families to choose from,” she said, adding that an additional fifth-grade teacher “was hired this year due to growth in this section, to be in compliance with TEA recommendations.”

In Rusk, the local school district had an opening day enrollment of 2,026, compared to 2,016 opening day of the 2018 school year, showing slight growth.

Troup ISD, while posting an opening day enrollment of 1,044, now has 1,089 students currently enrolled in the Pre-K through 12th grade program, whereas opening day enrollment for the 2018 school year was 1,092.

TISD PEIMS coordinator said that like many other districts, first-day enrollment fluctuates the first several weeks of classes because parents are still enrolling their children in the program.

New Summerfield ISD's opening day enrollment for the 2019 school year was 510, rising to 535 as of Sept. 29, said Superintendent Brian Nichols. No figures were available for the first day of classes in 2018.

“Historically, the first few weeks of the school year our enrollment is down, but increases over the course of the year,” he said.

Like other districts, Wells ISD opening day enrollment for the 2019 year were smaller – at 257 students – than the 2018 opening day enrollment of 274, but as of Sept. 23, enrollment was at 273, with the net result a negligible one.

“As we stand today, enrollment is down only one (student) from this time last year,” said interim WISD Superintendent Dale Morton. “We have added six new pre-K students, and we continue to enroll new students weekly. While first day enrollment is an important snapshot indicator, we are really pleased to see that enrollment is back to about normal for Wells ISD.”

Brook Hill, a private Christian school program in Bullard for students in grades Pre-K through 12, enrollment has increased slightly, going from 672 at the beginning of the 2018 school year, to 674 at the beginning of this school year. Today, the schools enrollment is at 680, said marketing director Travis Albea.

Both Jacksonville College and the BMA Theological Seminary are posting slightly smaller enrollments, but officials say they're seeing positive gains in other ways.

“Our total fall enrollment number is 517, a bit lower this semester than previous fall semesters, but we are up by 76 percent in freshmen enrollments over the previous Fall 2018 enrollment (and) 49 percent of our students take one or more classes online,” said Dr. Marolyn Welch, academic dean and vice president of Academic Affairs.

Meanwhile, the seminary's opening day fall enrollment this year is at 143, or 20 students less than the year before. However, those numbers, combined with that of the number of non-credit students (79) taking a free “Introduction to the Major Prophets” course this semester, pushes actual total enrollment to 222, according to Dr. Philip Attebery, seminary dean.

Online students and their counterparts who attend classes at the Jacksonville campus represent 18 different states and 14 foreign countries represent in local and online classes. This fall, enrollment is at 143, or 20 students less the 2018 figure of 163, but Attebery said those numbers, when combined with the 79 non-credit students taking a free “Introduction to the Major Prophets” course offered by BMATS, rise.

The free class “helps them learn to navigate the the seminary's online software program and often encourages students to sign up for regular classes,” he said.

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