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R-3 enrollment increases by 200 from last year
North Platte up slightly, West Platte down a bit
by Kim Fickett
Landmark reporter

The Platte County R-3 School District surpassed its conservative enrollment numbers, according to early calculations by district officials.

According to Assistant Superintendent Ron Harmon, as of Aug. 24 the unofficial count of the district’s student body is 2,759 students, an increase of 213 students from last year’s districtwide enrollment, marking a more than 9% growth over 2004-2005.

“It’s more than what we had projected,” said Harmon. “It’s not significantly more, but it’s a bit more than we typically estimate. We estimate conservatively a five percent growth each year. It’s just a sign of what’s to come.”

Harmon said that the greatest increase in enrollment was seen at the Platte City Middle School and the high school. The early enrollment numbers show that the Platte City Middle School has 523 students, an increase of 62 students from the previous year with 25 of those students coming from Barry School. The high school saw an increase of 100 students over last year, bringing their early total to 799 students.

While Barry School lost 25 students to a transfer to the new Platte City Middle School, Harmon said Barry still saw a growth of 31 students.

“Thank goodness the public supported the bond issue for the new middle school and renovations because the space was definitely needed,” stated Harmon.

According to Harmon, one statistic he finds outstanding in the district is the amount of kindergarten classrooms they have.

“We now have 11 kindergartens in the district. I think that’s a remarkable statistic. Last year there were ten and we’ve basically been adding a classroom each year for the past several years for kindergarten,” he stated. Of the 11 classrooms, seven are located at Rising Star with four at Barry School.

While no one can say exactly what has spurred such an increase, Harmon believes the answer comes down to the community.

“We’re an attractive community I believe, and that’s why people are choosing us,” said Harmon. “We believe the school is one of the reasons people chose to relocate here, along with the community’s location to the metro area makes it a pretty desirable place to be.”

As Platte County R-3 continues to expand beyond estimates, neighboring school districts North Platte and West Platte are experiencing a different scenario.
According to North Platte Superintendent Dr. Francis Moran, enrollment numbers for the 2005-2006 school year are 721 students districtwide, compared to 696 students last year.

Moran stated that the district has actually been hovering around the 700 enrollment mark for several years. The slight increase this year has been spread out equally throughout the buildings.

“We have a preference to see a small increase,” said Moran. “So, we’re happy with this increase.”

The West Platte School District has experienced a decrease in enrollment numbers from last year, from 657 in 2004-2005 to 641 students in K-12 this year. Of this year’s enrollment figures, 304 students are enrolled in the elementary level and 337 students are enrolled at the high school.

“Since I came to the district six years ago we have experienced little less than a 25 percent enrollment loss at the elementary level,” said Superintendent Kyle Stephenson.

Stephenson said six years ago, the district's enrollment numbers for the elementary level were at 400 compared to this year’s figures of 304. “That’s hard to deal with it. I sure would like to see some growth.”

Stephenson feels that many issues have contributed to the decrease in the district’s elementary enrollment.

One of the issues he outlined was that much of his district lies in a flood plain, not allowing for much development to occur. Secondly, Stephenson said the county’s land use plan doesn’t make it feasible for a young family to move to the area when the county requires that in order to build a home, 10 acres must be involved.

“That has added up to not much of an opportunity for young people to move here,” Stephenson stated.



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