TWIN FALLS — The Twin Falls School District continues to see an influx of students, with about 200 more in classrooms than last school year.
That’s a 2 percent increase, for a total of 9,269 children. School started Aug. 18.
As new companies come to Twin Falls and the city’s population grows, student numbers continue to grow. But two new elementary schools are helping to alleviate overcrowding.
Across the district’s 15 campuses, enrollment is still fluctuating on a daily basis. Superintendent Wiley Dobbs expects to see even more students before the district’s official reporting date — the fourth Friday in September — used for budget purposes.
“I’m going to project higher numbers this year,” he said Monday. That’s partly because more students are arriving late as they into the area or finish up family vacations.
So far, elementary school enrollment is similar to what school officials predicted in the spring. Growth at middle and high school campuses is slightly lower than expected.
Over the last decade, enrollment district-wide has increased anywhere from 2 to 4 percent each year.
This school year, each of the nine elementary schools are under capacity. Many have at least 100 fewer students than last year.
That’s because Rock Creek and Pillar Falls elementary schools opened in August, paid for by a nearly $74 million bond voters approved in 2014.
One of the most drastic changes: 246 fewer students at I.B. Perrine Elementary. At this time last year, the school’s enrollment was 800. Now, it’s 554.
Rock Creek and Pillar Falls — in the fastest-growing areas of Twin Falls — each have about 30 more students than expected.
Most elementary campuses are seeing student numbers hover in the 500s. The exception: Bickel Elementary School.
It’s a smaller campus and has a comfortable capacity of 360 students. School officials were projecting 300 students for this school year, but only 268 are enrolled.
“It’s something we’re going to want to watch,” Dobbs said.
A rezoning committee is predicting growth within Bickel’s attendance zone, school district spokeswoman Eva Craner said. But there’s a lower growth rate and potential for new home construction than other areas of the city.
Across the district, four elementary school teachers — out of 175 total — were transferred to different schools the day before school started to help balance out class sizes. Of those, three were Bickel teachers.
At the middle school level, there’s still overcrowding. But relief is coming soon. South Hills Middle School opens in 2017, paid for using bond money.
Vera C. O’Leary Middle School gained about 30 students. And on Monday alone, seven new students registered.
The school had 973 students, as of Friday. The campus is more than 70 students over capacity.
The space crunch is even worse at Robert Stuart Middle School. There’s 1,007 students, more than 100 over capacity.
“The buildings are definitely full,” said L.T. Erickson, secondary programs director.
High school enrollment is up slightly over last year.
At Canyon Ridge High School, there’s 19 new classrooms thanks to a $5.5 million bond project. Now, every teacher has their own classroom.
What about other school districts?
Jerome has about 4,000 students, up about 125 over last year.
It’s a continuation of a growth trend over four years, But this year, even more students arrived than expected.
The largest growth is at the middle and high schools. The reason for the high school growth: “Going back a number of years, the younger grades started increasing,” Superintendent Dale Layne said. “This is the first year they’ve hit the high school.”
But he’s not sure what’s causing an influx of students at Jerome Middle School, which has about 70 more children than predicted.
At the elementary school level, fourth and fifth grades each gained about 20 children. Kindergarten through third grade numbers remained fairly flat.
To handle the growth, the school district hired seven additional teachers before the school year began.
In Wendell, enrollment is flat. As of Wednesday — the third day of school — a total of 1,208 students were in preschool through 12th grades.
“That’s about par for this time of year,” Superintendent Greg Lowe said. “It has been very consistent over the last few years, which is pretty good for a rural school district.”