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School enrollment steady, for now

Enrollment numbers won’t be official, as far as the state is concerned, until Sept. 12, but Lanesville and South Harrison are anticipating modest gains while North Harrison’s attendance may stay about the same as last year.
Lanesville Community School Corp. maintained a relatively even distribution between grade levels after a modest increase in its student population from 609 to 624. Lanesville Elementary and Junior-Senior High schools split the students evenly with 312 each.
‘We’ve had steady growth, but it has been slow,’ Supt. Phil Partenheimer said.
However, he said, that may soon change.
Three subdivision developments may bring more than 300 homes into Franklin Township and adjacent properties in Floyd County during the next several years. Lanesville already has about 20 students paying tuition ‘ the cost that parents who live outside the school district would have paid in property tax ‘ and school officials expect more.
Students living in Floyd County but near Lanesville have bus rides that can take 45 minutes to Georgetown Elementary, causing some parents to consider Lanesville Elementary instead, Dr. Partenheimer said.
He expects Lanesville’s upcoming balanced-calendar program will be an added enticement for potential tuition students. Those students are accepted on a case-by-case basis and can be refused or limited at the school’s discretion.
Where expansion is concerned, ‘We are in the thinking stage,’ Partenheimer said. ‘If we gain as many students next year as we did this year, we will probably be five or six years away.’
South Harrison has grown only from 3,155 students in September 2002 to 3,178 students in August of this year. The facilities are already close to capacity with the exception of the South Central campus, which is undergoing expansion and renovation.
Heth-Washington Elementary School has shown a considerable increase, 161 to 180 students. Seven years ago, the enrollment was about 130.
‘Heth-Washington, under Doug Cornett’s leadership and that faculty, they’ve done a great job. The word is out,’ Supt. Neyland Clark said.
He also attributed growth to recent renovations and the school’s small size.
‘People drive by and see it. It’s small enough to give personalized attention to children. People like that environment,’ said Dr. Clark, ‘but I could say the same for Corydon Elementary School.’
Though CES added only 10 students to last year’s enrollment of 481, the kindergarten surged from 96 to 131 students.
Also at South Harrison: Corydon Intermediate decreased from 378 to 369 students, Corydon Junior High grew from 370 to 386, Corydon Central High decreased from 756 to 752, New Middletown Elementary increased from 149 to 155, South Central Elementary decreased from 420 to 417, and South Central Junior-Senior High decreased from 421 to 409.
Although the northern part of Harrison County experienced considerable growth in the early 1990s, causing the North Harrison Community School Corp. to expand, new enrollments appear to have broken even with students moving out of the school corporation.
‘We anticipate our numbers to be down,’ said Monty Schneider, superintendent of the North Harrison Community School Corp.
He attributes the decrease to the lack of ‘lower cost’ housing in the northern part of the county.
‘The property has gotten expensive,’ he said, and, in many cases, the new homes being built are for older people whose children may be grown or it’s young people who don’t have children or school-age children.
‘Generally, through the 1970s and ’80s, we grew most of that time,’ Schneider said. ‘I think it will turn around again.’
He defined optimal growth as eight to 10 students a year.
At a school board meeting last month, building principals put attendance figures as follows: North Harrison High, 727 (19 less than last year); North Harrison Middle School, 381, up six from the previous year; NH Upper Elementary, 374 (about the same as last year), and Morgan Elementary, 375, 20 fewer than the year before.
North Harrison Elementary is the only school with an increase; 12 students did not return from last year but 52 new ones enrolled, for a total enrollment of 463.
The official ADM (average daily membership) count is done on Sept. 12.
Schools ‘don’t get a whole lot of money on attendance anymore,’ Schneider said.