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South Central enrollment jumps 11.6 percent

An 11.6 percent increase in enrollment from last year has pushed South Central Junior-Senior High School into a record year. Last week, the SCJSHS student body totaled 449 students, up from 397 last year.
‘I don’t know that we have any tuition students,’ said instructional assistant Robin Rhodes, concluding that all the newcomers were taking up residence in the school district.
‘The (Caesar’s casino) boat moving into the area drew the attention that it’s not a bad drive from New Albany or Louisville,’ Principal Jim Crisp said.
He also credited new facilities and improving ISTEP scores as factors in attracting new students.
Major expansion and renovation were completed at South Central this year. Projections compiled as part of a feasibility study showed slow enrollment growth, said Carolyn Wallace, director of business operations for the school corporation.
Crisp said, ‘We thought that there would continue to be growth. The one thing that would hold that back would be roads and handling the traffic. If there would be an improvement in the roads toward New Albany, I think we would see a real explosion.’
Crisp said a gain of 20 students in one year at South Central would be unusually high, but he didn’t characterize the 52-student increase as an explosion, and, currently, there have been no difficulties in accommodating any class sizes.
‘A lot of (new) students didn’t contact us until the last minute, but, again, we had the space,’ Crisp said.
School officials approximated the building’s former capacity at about 450 students. Post-construction, Wallace said SCJSHS could easily accommodate about 550.
‘It’s a little easier to accommodate in a high school because if you get a large class, you can shuffle your classes around,’ Wallace said.
The junior and senior high enrollment breaks down by grade like this: 79 seventh graders; 67 eighth graders; 80 freshman; 80 sophomores; 78 juniors, and 65 seniors.
The largest graduating class size was unavailable, but Crisp said that it would’ve numbered in the mid to low 60s. Last year the school graduated fewer than 50 students.
South Central averages a graduation rate of about 98 percent, and graduating classes will likely exceed 70 students in the near future, Crisp said.
Though recently broadened class offerings and the addition of an alternative school have given students more incentives to stay in school, the consistently high retention rate at South Central rules out the possibility that increased retention has been a significant factor in record enrollment.
There is also no major subdivision or apartment development that could have led to the surge.
A similar phenomenon is at work near Central where Heth Washington Elementary school has held at a high of 181 students for the past two years.
Until recently, there was one classroom for each grade at Heth Washington. Now there are two classrooms each for kindergartners, first graders and third graders.