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TCSS faces declining enrollment numbers

One of the first things Superintendent Brian Shumate presented during his first Troup County School Board meeting Monday were gradually declining enrollment numbers for the school system.

The school system’s enrollment as of May 2019 was 11,999, a decline of just over 650 students since August 2012, which is the length of time presented Monday night.

“This is a sign of health. This is like the blood pressure of the school district. It’s the first thing we need to take note of,” Shumate said. “Then we get to test scores and graduation rates, but we’ve got to have kids and create a school district where people want to be.”

The largest decline was in elementary schools, which saw a decrease of 331 students since August 2012 and a 180-student decline since May 2018.  There are current 6,040 students enrolled in elementary schools. Franklin Forest (750 students) and Clearview Elementary (716 students) currently have the highest recorded enrollment.

Middle school enrollment has increased each of the last six Mays but is down about 64 students since August 2012.

The system’s middle school enrollment is currently 2,733 students.

High school enrollment currently sits at 3,226 students, a decrease of 261 students since August 2012.

“We’ve lost 66 kids since this time last year. If we go back about five years, we’ve lost upwards of about 400 kids,” Shumate said. “Kids are our lifeblood. People vote with their feet, and I’m going to challenge our staff and the entire community to level this out. The Troup County population is growing and we’ve got to get our school district growing at least at the same rate. We’ve got some work to do in this area.”

In discussing his focuses for his first days in office, Shumate said the school district should look at the district from the eyes of a family.

“What do we have that is available for any kind of kid that walks in the door?” Shumate asked. “That’s one of the things that really drives me. I think school districts anywhere have to adapt to families and the needs of kids and not vise versa.”