Enrollment way up at Ashton, Community

Enrollment way up at Ashton, Community

Mitchell: We have to consider redistricting

CUMBERLAND – Two local elementary schools, Ashton and Community, have seen significant jumps in student enrollment this summer, and school officials say the end result could be more students transferring to a school that’s not their “home” neighborhood school.

Supt. Robert Mitchell confirmed that some classes at those two schools have already reached capacity and are closed to additional students. The exact numbers weren’t available, as the situation will remain in flux right up to the start of school Aug. 30.

School officials plan to meet today, Thursday, on the latest enrollment numbers.

Mitchell said Cumberland has reached a point where a shift of school district lines has to happen.

“We’re in a position now where we have to consider redistricting, making changes to home school boundaries because of enrollment in different schools,” he told The Valley Breeze.

Redistricting is a normal part of school planning, as population shifts occur and new housing developments are built, said Mitchell, but “it’s never easy,” as many people don’t want their children moved.

“Sometimes we have no choice,” he said. “I understand the impact that it has on a family.”

The head of schools said an “amazing number” of families in the Ashton area are registering their children for kindergarten this summer, so many, in fact, that school officials had to create another kindergarten class and move a teacher to the school.

Mitchell said he understands the middle of August has arrived, and parents want to know where their children will go to school when they head back to class, but he said many families will be signing up children right up to the first day of school, making it impossible to say right now where everyone will end up.

According to Mitchell, there are always instances where the number of students signed up exceeds the number of spaces available in a grade level.

“Once that number is exceeded, we have no choice but to move them to another school,” he said.

The goal is always to have students attend their home school, but once the schools reach that certain number, “we have no choice” but to move them, he said. The school district always provides transportation for those families, Mitchell noted.

School officials always try to avoid a situation where one sibling goes to one school and another attends a different school, said Mitchell. School officials don’t ask residents to volunteer to move to a new school, but about 30 or so parents a year make a request to have a child go to another school, he said.

“If we have space, we allow them to make the move,” he said.

For example, if a child wants to go to a different school because that’s where their friends are, “those kinds of things we consider,” said Mitchell.

School officials never allow a student to be enrolled in a school other than their home school if it’s going to force someone already in that school out, he said.