Shelby County schools continue growth

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Enrollment in Shelby County schools increased by 1,300 students since the final bell rang last May; that brings the systems growth total to more than 7,200 students during the past decade and a grand total of almost 25,000 students enrolled this year. Hard to believe, but true.

The simplified chicken-and-egg approach to school growth might be:

which comes first, top tier public schools or the interested parents seeking a top tier education for their children?

No matter the correct answer, both the chicken and the egg have, in this example, found themselves in Shelby County.

According to the school system’s most recent newsletter, here are a few of the areas where the astounding growth is being felt:

Six new bus routes have been added to the systems already busy transportation plan with as many as eight more possible before the end of this school year.

120 new teachers were added to keep pace with the growing student population along with four additional assistant principals.

35 portable classrooms were added over the summer in anticipation of the greater classroom need this school year; 95 portable classrooms total are now used in the system.

Other necessary services provided by our schools that are most likely experiencing similar growth pains:

more students are fed each day in school cafeterias, more students mean more textbooks and supplies, more classrooms mean more light bulbs and higher heating and cooling bills.

The list could go on and on.

No question the ever-growing student population requires that we think differently about how we fund our local school system.

Solutions to funding new buildings, new teachers and the like will come from creative minds and through practical application of their ideas.

Those solutions can’t come soon enough for Shelby County.

Our collective responsibility, as citizens of this county, is to ensure the highest level of learning experiences for all students.

Falling short of this mark, through lack of funding or lack of interest, simply can’t be an option long-term. Let’s hope that it won’t be