The Georgia Department of Education reports that 14,370 full-time equivalent were sitting in county classrooms on the report day in October of this year. Last October, the system had 14,518 students — a 148-student decrease.
The state DOE counts student enrollment at schools throughout the state every October and March to determine how much state funding school systems will receive, taking an average of the past three enrollment counts.
Superintendent Scott Cowart said the dip in enrollment is not “necessarily a bad thing.”
“Of course you want to grow as a system, but you want controlled growth,” Cowart said. “A few years ago, when we were growing considerably, we were almost put in a situation of uncontrollable growth.”
The system has lost 710 students since 2007, when enrollment reached its peak of 15,080 students. That was the year the system opened its 23rd school, Mt. Zion Middle.
Before 2007, the system experienced a steady increase in enrollment, growing by more than 4,300 students in 13 years until its 15,000 student peak.
Cowart said a “big factor” of the 148-student drop is the limping economy.
“The housing crisis and foreclosures, especially the transiency problem in the north end of the county, has caused our numbers to go down a bit,” Cowart said. “But as the economy recovers and the housing market climbs back, we’ll see our enrollment numbers stop decreasing.”
The spread of students’ families losing their homes affects the system in that families are now forced to move to other school districts, Cowart said. The uncertainty of a living situation and the transiency of many county residents factor into the decrease, he said.
“We deal with a lot of families who leave the system who say they are leaving because they have to move in with other family members, which moves them to another school district,” the superintendent said. “And obviously, we understand that.”
For the 10th consecutive year, Villa Rica High is the largest school in the district by enrollment, with 1,494 students. The smallest school, other than KidsPeace, is Mt. Zion Middle, with 294 students.
The county system is still ranked 24th in terms of size in the state’s 198 systems.
As for finding out any discernible reasons for the enrollment decreases, Cowart said he and his fellow leaders are “always working” and talking with departing families to find out why they’ve left the system.
“We are always working to try and figure out what exactly causes these fluctuations,” Cowart said.
Enrollment numbers for the past 10 years for Carroll County Schools, as reported by the state DOE:
• October 2012: 14,370
• October 2011: 14,518
• October 2010: 14,587
• October 2009: 14,775
• October 2008: 14,959
• October 2007: 15,080
• October 2006: 14,992
• October 2005: 14,739
• October 2004: 14,194
• October 2003: 13,769