County schools see increased enrollment
By By Thomas Tingle
Record Managing Editor
More students and not enough classroom space to get them all under one roof is what schools in the Harvest, Monrovia and Toney areas of Madison County are experiencing for the 2002-2003 school year.
An increase of more than 100 students at Monrovia Elementary School on Jeff Road has forced the school to bring in a dozen portables for additional classroom and storage space.
A continued increase in enrollment has also caused a huge traffic jam along Jeff Road where Monrovia Elementary, along with Monrovia Middle School and Sparkman High School, are located. To the north of the three campuses, Sparkman Middle School is located at the intersection of Jeff Road and Ready Section Road.
Schools serving the Harvest, Monrovia and Toney areas include Endeavor Elementary School, Harvest School, Monrovia Elementary School, Monrovia Middle School, Sparkman Middle School and Sparkman High School.
Approximately 5,810 of the system's 16,560 students enrolled in counties 22 schools attend these six schools.
Enrollment at Endeavor, the system's newest elementary school, is up by 20 students to approximately 836 students for the new school year. Endeavor opened its doors at the beginning of the 2001-2002 school year to reduce the number of students attending Monrovia Elementary School – which, during the 2000-2001 school year had more than 1,400 students.
School officials say as the neighboring new subdivision of Magnolia Springs develops, enrollment at Endeavor will rise. The planned development will contain more than 300 homes. The Arbor Springs subdivision to the east of Endeavor, which will contain more than 90 homes completed, has contributed to the increased enrollment at Endeavor as well.
Monrovia Elementary School principal Cheryl Davis said she loves the fact that her school has as many students as it does, but she does not like the fact that she can't have all of them under one roof.
Last year, we had 946 students here at MES and as a result of the increased enrollment at our school, we've had to bring back 12 portables," Davis said. "If you were to go outside of our campus, there is a subdivision located at every other block. While I'm glad to have this many students here, I'd prefer having them all in a warm building – under one roof."
Davis said the dozen portables brought back to MES were taken away at the end of the 2000-2001 school year when Endeavor opened. During the 2001-2002 school year, the space where the portables were located was used for additional parking – something Davis said is a problem once again since that space now has portables located on it.
"The portables were brought in back during the 1998-1999 school year, but as you can see, even though they were removed in 2001, they've been brought back because our enrollment continues to rise and we don't have the facilities to put all of the students in the building," Davis said. "I'd like to see another school built."
Less than a mile to the north of Monrovia Elementary at Monrovia Middle, enrollment for 2002-2003 is at 890 students. That figure is up by nearly 65 students from the previous school year. Opened in Feb. 1998, Monrovia Middle School was also built to reduce the number of students attending the Monrovia Elementary and Middle School campus. Assistant Principal Janet Sykes said the school is not at capacity at this time since fifth grade students were taken out of the school last year and moved to Endeavor.
"We added one teacher unit this year and we expect to see the enrollment go above 900 students by the end of the school year," Sykes said. "Taking the fifth grade out of this school and moving it over to Endeavor helped us out. That is why we are not at capacity and we've got a little more room to grow.
Enrollment at Harvest School, located on Wall-Triana Highway, is approximately 400 students. It is the smallest school in the area, but the enrollment figure this year is up by 60 students from last year. The school's principal, Stephanie Burton, said enrollment at Harvest School has increased each year since she's been there for the past six year.
"We added one teacher unit this year and we've got one class and two resource portables operating on our campus at the present time," Burton said. "If we continue to grow like we are, we will have to look at either an addition or more portables."
Sparkman Middle School, located in the former Sparkman High School campus, serves grades 5-8. The school underwent a $3.5 million renovation after the new Sparkman High School building opened four years ago.
The school serves approximately 882 students. Its principal, Ronnie Blair, said the school has experienced an increase of 50 students each year since the school opened four years ago when enrollment then was 740 students.
By the end of this school year, we expect to see an enrollment here between 925-930 students," Blair said. "We are maxed out and I expect to see portable classrooms brought in next year." "We had a fantastic opening this school year and I credit that to our students and faculty."
Six teacher units, one assistant principal, one counselor and one technical specialist have been added to Sparkman High School for the 2002-2003 school year to accommodate the increased enrollment.
Approximately 1,772 students are enrolled at Sparkman, which is the second largest high school north of Birmingham – behind Grissom High School in Huntsville. Since the Jeff Road campus was built four years ago, the school has added 19 classrooms and enlarged its cafeteria to accommodate the growth. Sparkman Principal Steve Holland said six teachers are being floated because they do not have a classroom to themselves. Holland said he would like to see the Madison County Board of Education go through with an idea to move ninth grade students out of Sparkman and out of Hazel Green High School and put them in a middle school or junior high school setting.
"Not only would it help us out as far as enrollment is concerned, but I believe it would help the students out as well," Holland said. "I believe they are still too young to be in a high school setting."
To ease the traffic flow at Sparkman, Holland said traffic has been re-routed around the school. He said he expects the school to continue to increase in enrollment for years to come.