Troy School District attendance swells

By: Terry Oparka | Troy Times | Published September 13, 2011

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The Troy School District gained nearly 300 new students over the summer, but district officials said that won’t impact class sizes.

Kerry Birmingham, Troy School District director of community and media relations, said she received between one- and two-dozen queries each week over the summer from Realtors and homebuyers wondering if a home for sale in the city was in the district boundaries.

“People are moving in,” she said.

Birmingham believes the increase also reflects families switching from private schools to the Troy School District.

The number of students attending school in the district increased by 293 from June of last year. Last week, 12,385 students were enrolled, an increase of 137 elementary, 52 middle and 104 high school students.

Birmingham explained that the increase also reflects a class added at International Academy East in Troy, now in its fourth year, which now serves students in grades nine through 12; and the students coming into the district through the Schools of Choice program, which Birmingham said account for less than half of the spike.

The influx of students means more money from the state. The per-pupil allowance for the Troy School District is currently $8,805. Birmingham said the increase allowed the district to add some staff and alleviates some of the budget challenges, but noted the foundation allowance is down $470 per-pupil from last year. She added that the district hopes to recoup $100 per-pupil under Gov. Rick Snyder’s best practices initiative. The district’s foundation allowance was as high as $9,523 per-pupil in the 2008-2009 school year.

“We have a little more breathing room than we did,” Birmingham said.

“The additional number of students at the elementary level has allowed us to retain programming that we may otherwise have lost,” said Jan Keeling, assistant superintendent of elementary education. Two new teachers were added at the elementary level to accommodate the additional students, which increased class sizes from 23.76 to 24.17 students per teacher, Keeling noted.

“The increase in class size is less than 1 percent,” Keeling said.

She noted that only nine elementary classrooms out of 199 in the district are at teacher contract maximums, which range from 26-29 students for kindergarten through fifth-grade.

“Larger class sizes are not new for us,” Keeling said. “We have had them before, and it has not impacted our high level of student achievement. Even with increases in several areas, Troy School District class sizes are still strong in comparison to many other school districts. The No. 1 factor in student achievement is the quality of instruction. We feel fortunate that the teaching staff in Troy is highly skilled, professional and dedicated and know that they will continue to provide excellent instruction to our students.”
 

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