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February 8th, 2008
» Iris Campbell's Guest Column | SMCISD enrollment growing steadily

By IRIS CAMPBELL

Recalling the parable of the Tortoise and the Hare, one would be reminded that “slow and steady wins the race.” While watching the rapid population growth along portions of the IH-35 corridor, San Marcos CISD holds a steady pace while the student enrollment continues to steadily grow each year.

Some citizens have expressed concern due to the fact that SMCISD was recently reclassified as a 4A District in UIL competition, instead of 5A. This does not interpret into a loss of enrollment.

First of all, the UIL reclassification increases every two years. During the time period of 2006-2007 and 2007-2008, the 5A classification was based on high school student enrollments of 1,985 and up. For the school years of 2008-2009 and 2009-1210, the 5A classification goes up based on high school enrollments of 2,085 and up.

Similarly, the 4A classifications are based on: 950-1984 (for 06-07 and 07-08) and 980-2094 (for 08-09 and 09-10).

Then there is the fact that a typical high school enrollment changes daily due to such things as students transferring in and out of a district and graduations. The San Marcos CISD Attendance Office says that, typically, enrollment will rise during the period following the first day of school through the days just before the winter break. From that point, the average enrollment declines a bit, primarily due to graduations throughout the year.

For that reason, the Texas Education Agency sets what they call a “snapshot day” – usually in October—where that day’s enrollment is submitted to TEA as the formal enrollment for campuses and the district for reporting purposes.

As an example, San Marcos High School and PRIDE High School had a combined enrollment in mid-September 2007 of 1,985. On snapshot day in October 2007, the enrollment figure was 1,978. However, by the 2007 snapshot day both PRIDE High School and Pathfinder Learning Center had graduated two groups of students.

“In fact,” says Superintendent Dr. Patty Shafer, “since the official snapshot day in October 2007, PRIDE has graduated 16 students, and Pathfinder has graduated 20 students with more scheduled to be graduating in March, April, and early May. Our high school enrollment is going down for very positive reasons. i.e. graduations.”

The district’s “snapshot day” enrollment as a whole is rising, as indicated below:

• Fall 2003 – 7,052
• Fall 2004 – 7,156
• Fall 2005 – 7,181
• Fall 2006 – 7,216
• Fall 2007 – 7,382

“It would be simplistic to say that our high school enrollment is declining and assume a negative,” adds Shafer. “Our high school is right on track with a dropout rate lower than the Region 13 average and lower than the state average, and we are graduating students regularly throughout the year through our PRIDE and Pathfinder programs.”

Shafer points out that when San Marcos CISD was classified 5A six years ago, not only were the UIL cut-off numbers lower, but also the district did not have the Pathfinder program in place. Pathfinder was established in 2004. The first year, there were 2 graduates. However in 05-06, the numbers jumped to 51 graduates; in 06-07, there were 71 graduates. The current 07-08 enrollment in the Pathfinder program is 61 students in the day classes and 45 in the night classes for a total enrollment of 106 students.

“With Pathfinder graduating around 70 each year now and PRIDE having had 92 graduates last school year, one can easily see how the high school enrollment would fluctuate due to student graduations alone,” adds Shafer.

IRIS CAMPBELL is the public information officer for the San Marcos Consolidated Independent School District.

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One thought on “» Iris Campbell's Guest Column | SMCISD enrollment growing steadily

  1. I wouldn’t call that slow and steady growth. That’s an increase of 330 students (4%) over four years. If UIL 5A classification for increased by 5% in two years and we haven’t even seen that much twice as long, that sounds like stagnation.

    Maybe we don’t want explosive, painful growth, but we do want *some* growth. This is like getting a 3% raise with a 10% increase in the cost of living.

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