Columbia School Enrollment
Parkade elementary saw one of the biggest enrollment spikes. Teachers donated chairs and supplies like carpet to transform rooms into classrooms. The class sizes are pushing the limit and Parkade Elementary and other schools in Columbia are running out of room. Parkade Elementary principal Betsy Baker runs to keep up with growing student enrollment.
"My kindergartens are too big, my second grades are too big, my fourth grade is very large, fifth grade is very large," Baker says.
Heidi Heath, a Parkade Elementary parent says she thinks class size is limiting students.
"I think what they'd be able to teach the children in the classroom would be incredibly limited. They wouldn't get as much as they needed," Heath says.
Columbia elementary schools are hardest hit with enrollment up 291 students this year, 160 of those are kindergartners. High school enrollment went up 185 students. Middle school and junior high enrollment actually went down, but the district total is still more than 400 new students. Last year the district saw less than 100 new students.Parkade hired a teacher and an aide to handle more students.
"They can't get to them on an individual basis as often as they would like, especially in the primary grades where we're working so hard on reading, writing and math," Baker says.
She says the school won't hire more teachers this year, but the district says it'll do more.
"I'm sure we'll see a new school. I don't know where it might be or what level it might be," Assistant Superintendent Lynn Barnett says.
The school district cites three reasons for the enrollment boom, a new pre-kindergarten program added 45 students, Hurricane Katrina brought in 54 students, and Columbia's growing population added the rest.