In its first year after consolidation, the enrollment of the Greenwood Leflore Consolidated School District is about 3.3% below the combined totals for the Greenwood and Leflore County districts for the fall of 2018.

The overall number of students was down by 162 from last year’s October figure of 4,878 in the two districts. The changes at most of the schools were small, although there  was a 14.9% increase at Claudine Brown Elementary School and a 28.8% drop at  East Elementary.

Dr. Mary Brown, superintendent of the consolidated district, attributed the slight decrease to population decline in the area and relocation of parents seeking better job opportunities.

The Carroll County district’s enrollment also dropped slightly, by only 1.5%.

Carroll County Superintendent Billy Joe Ferguson said he expected it to be about the same and hadn’t planned for a large increase or decrease. Like Brown, he cited a population decline and the departure of some residents for other jobs.

“When the county population decreases, you expect the school one to decrease,” he said.

Small increases or decreases from one year to the next don’t necessitate dramatic changes, although declines over 10 years do have an impact because enrollment affects funding, Ferguson said.

Enrollments at Pillow Academy and Carroll Academy were steady; Pillow’s total of 769 was the same as last fall’s, and Carroll gained six students.

Pillow Headmaster Rodney Brown said the number there was expected to be about the same. Pillow had 757 students at the end of the 2018-2019 year.

“Our enrollment’s been strong the last several years — consistent around 760 to 770 — and we hope it continues,” he said.

The problem comes if there is a significant drop of 25 or 30 students, but “we haven’t experienced that yet, so hopefully that won’t happen,” said Brown, who came to Pillow in the summer of 2017. He said the school will continue its marketing efforts and “put Pillow Academy out there as much as we can.”

Penny Mitchell, headmaster at Carroll, said the increase from 320 students to 326 was a good sign.

“We were hoping to get more, so we were excited about that. ... We just hope we can keep on improving and adding more students as time goes on,” she said.

Mitchell said the school has the staff to handle the number of students there and keep classes at a desirable size.

She said the school is also stepping up its marketing about its activities and students’ achievements. When she came on board last year, she started a monthly newsletter that is emailed to parents and others and tells what’s going on at Carroll.

Enrollment at Delta Streets Academy was down from 69 students to 61.

T. Mac Howard, head of school, said his ideal enrollment there would be about 20 students per grade. The current average is 12.

He said changes in enrollment don’t affect school operations much because the majority of the funding comes from donations.

“I’m very optimistic for the remainder of the school year, and hopefully that will bring some growth and some excitement,” he said.

At North New Summit School, the enrollment was up to 147 with the addition of a couple of students this week, only a small increase over the last couple of years.

Headmaster Keith Davis said that there is a waiting list for students but that “we are pretty much at capacity with our current restraints,” including classroom size and staff. The goal is to keep the student-teacher ratio at about 12-to-1, and the school doesn’t have the classroom space or staff to exceed that, he said.

“We’re good where we are,” he said.

The enrollment at St. Francis School declined by 12.7% to 60 students. The school has eliminated pre-kindergarten and kindergarten this year because that’s where the numbers were especially low, said Jackie Cooper-Lewis, principal.

“We did kind of think it was going to be around 60, but we always hope for more,” she said.

She said there were no changes to the staff other than in pre-kindergarten and kindergarten.

In the spring of 2018, the school said it would be forced to close if it didn’t enroll at least 60 students in the fall. It met that goal.

This time, “we already have the go-ahead; we know we’ll be open next year,” Cooper-Lewis said. “Past next year, we’re not really sure.”

She said St. Francis depends greatly on word of mouth but also is continuing to market itself online. Parents also were offered discounts on tuition if they recruited other parents to enroll their children.

Cooper-Lewis said she remains optimistic every year, since the school has faced challenges before and overcome them.

“I don’t think God’s going to close us until he gets ready,” she said.

Contact David Monroe at 581-7236 or dmonroe@gwcommonwealth.com.

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