As Johnston County students entered their first day of classes on Monday, enrollment tallies showed growth in about half of the system’s schools.
Countywide, enrollment totaled 33,181 students, up 796 students from the first day last year. Twenty-four of the system’s 40 schools showed an average growth of about 55 students. The other schools decreased in population by an average of about 27 students.
The enrollment tallies showed 42 more students at Corinth-Holders Elementary School, where Melissa Hubbard is principal. Walking down the hall of the school in northeastern Johnston County, Hubbard said Corinth-Holders has about 20 students per classroom. That’s a little more than usual but not too many per class, she said.
“It’s probably the smoothest year as far as busing and getting kids in the classroom goes,” Hubbard said.
She said she was encouraging teachers to be champions for students. “It’s all about finding that niche for each individual child,” Hubbard said.
Other schools reporting enrollment increases included Corinth Holders High School, where the population grew from 1,426 to 1,621, or 195 students. Clayton High School had 135 more students, while Smithfield-Selma High School had 132 more.
Clayton High Principal Clint Eaves said recently that he expects the school’s population to hit 1,500 this year and 1,600 next year. “That’s a tough number,” Eaves said, adding that the school will need more resources to accompany the growth.
Clayton currently employs 128 staff members, including 95 teachers.
“The core classes are at capacity,” Eaves said. “Some are over capacity.”
Eaves said that to ensure students have a strong foundation, his school added teachers to reduce class sizes in lower-level courses. That caused upper-level courses to have class sizes of 32 to 35 students, he said.
“If we have a good, sound foundation, they will be prepared for higher-level classes,” he said.
Some schools where enrollment decreased included Cleveland High School (73 fewer students), North Johnston High (51 fewer students) and Polenta Elementary School (30 fewer students).
Because of increased growth in recent years, the school system moved fifth grade at Selma Elementary School to Selma Middle School. That caused an increase of about 138 students at the middle school, said Johnston County Schools spokeswoman Tracey Peedin Jones.
“This is not a new concept for the Selma schools,” Jones said. “Fifth grade has been located at Selma Middle previously.”
Across the county, Peedin Jones said, 19 classrooms opened Monday without a certified teacher.
“We are fortunate to have a wonderful supply of licensed and non-licensed substitutes as well as retired teachers that will be able to fill in as needed,” she said in an email.
If tradition holds, enrollment totals across Johnston will continue to rise through the first couple of weeks of school. For teacher-allotment purposes, the state takes its official tally on the 10th day of the new school year.