Kingsport, Sullivan County schools report slight increase in enrollment

Rick Wagner • Aug 12, 2013 at 9:22 AM

KINGSPORT — Overall enrollments in Kingsport and Sullivan County schools are up slightly after the first week of classes in both systems, although no-shows are still being removed from the rolls.

Still, the city’s Dobyns-Bennett High School surpassed 2,000 students Friday, and John Adams Elementary had added 18 kindergarten students, both compared to the first day of school last year.

But Innovation Academy of Northeast Tennessee, a science, technology, engineering and math school operated jointly by both systems, is still accepting students because it needs more students at all grade levels to reach its capacity of 240.

Both systems started the 2013-14 school year Monday, Aug. 5, and begin the second week today.

“We have 10,690 enrolled (as of Friday), which is an increase over our projected number of 10,549, but we are still working through withdrawals and no shows,” Sullivan County Director of Schools Jubal Yennie said in an email Friday afternoon. “Actual attendance is 95.79 percent this week, so I suspect we will have fewer enrolled students by the end of next week.”

Yennie could not be reached for further comment Friday on individual school enrollments or last year’s numbers, but in April the system reported about 10,400 students and recent planning documents indicated an enrollment of 10,598 last school year.

Kingsport City Schools Administrative Coordinator Andy True, spokesman for KCS, said total city enrollment as of Friday was 6,833 compared to 6,805 on the fifth day of school last year.

Like the county, he said KCS is working through no-show students.

D-B reached 2,002 students Friday, compared to 1,998 Thursday and 1,896 on the first day of school last year. True said some of that can be attributed to a record-sized freshman class. Robinson and Sevier middle schools fell slightly to 1,516 students combined.

Robinson fell from 876 the first day last year to 855 Friday, while Sevier dropped from 808 the first day last year to 807 Friday.

Adams, in the greater Colonial Heights/Rock Springs area where the city has annexed over the past few years, saw an increase from 299 the first day of last school year to 358 Friday.

Of those 69 were kindergarten students, an increase of 18 from the first day of last year. That’s enough for an extra kindergarten class.

True said it was too early to determine if any of the shifts were caused by annexed students choosing to attend city schools more than in the past or could be attributed to newly annexed students shifting to the city system.

Meanwhile, IA has vacant slots among 240 available, 40 students from each system in grades 6, 7 and 8.

A spokeswoman for Principal Sandy Watkins said that as of Friday, the county had 19 eighth-graders and thus space for 21 more; 38 seventh-graders or space for two more; and 37 sixth-graders or space for three more.

On the city side were 34 eighth-graders, leaving space for six; 35 seventh-graders, leaving space for five; and 37 sixth-graders, leaving space for three.

However, that doesn’t include three new students, not identified by grade, who have indicated they are coming to IA but had not physically been there as of Friday.

Those interested in available slots should call the school at 354-1730 or email the school through the “Contact Us” section of the IA website, www.ianetn.org/.

IA seventh-grade science teacher Jessica Carr said the year has started off well at IA, which like last year had STEM week to kick off the year with STEM professionals from Eastman Chemical Co., the Domtar paper plant and Wellmont Health System.

In the county system, parents in line at Ketron Elementary to drop off students Monday spent more time than planned when a fire alarm went off in the building, sending everybody in the building outside and snarling traffic around it.

County maintenance supervisor Joe Davenport said no one pulled the alarm and officials don’t know exactly what happened.

In the city system, the unfinished Robinson Middle parking lot renovations caused a shortage of parking and a shift to neighboring parking areas.

The school system had to add more funding to the project because of “blue muck” found underneath the old parking lot that had to be dug out and replaced with rock and a membrane before paving could occur.

Also in the city system, Jackson Elementary had a temporarily permanent visitor, a city firefighter, because the new fire alarm system installed over the summer had not been approved.

“KFD has been supporting with someone in the building until the state fire marshal approves the sprinkler system plan for the new office that was constructed this summer,” True said in a Monday email. “Everything is operational, but there was a delay in the sprinkler company sending in the plans to the state. Our understanding is that the plans have been received. We’re just waiting on the final approval.”

True Friday said that approval came Tuesday and the firefighter no longer had to stay at the school. He said the section in question was for new construction in an office area, part of a project to put a new secure entrance at the school.

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