Central Montcalm sees student count increase

By Lori Hansen • Last Updated 6:53 pm on Thursday, September 22, 2011

STANTON - When school ended in June, administrators from the Central Montcalm Public School district had an idea of how many students to expect this fall.
They were pleasantly surprised to see over the summer how that number began to increase, and even more surprised as the number of students enrolling continues.

“We had two more today,” Superintendent Jake Helms told the Board of Education at their Monday night regularly scheduled monthly meeting.

Estimated numbers show 569 students at the high school level, 455 at the middle school, 575 at the upper elementary and 275 at the kindergarten and first-grade levels. The 1,884 students is an increase from last year’s February count of 1,862, Helms said.

“We predicted we would have 107 register for kindergarten. We had 170. We have had kids transfer from Belding, Ionia, Cedar Springs and from every nearby district. We have also lost some to neighboring districts, but for the most part, any we have lost have gone out of state for parent’s employment,” said Helms.

The biggest concern is at the second-grade level along with watching the numbers at fourth grade, he said, where there are more than 30 students in each of the six classrooms at both grade levels.

Board Treasurer Joe Kohn questioned the numbers, asking if the goal was 25 pupils per section, with Helms explaining the fourth Friday count, this year on Oct. 5, will give more specific numbers.

He added one section has been added at the kindergarten level, totaling seven kindergarten classrooms at Central Montcalm Elementary School in Sheridan, and it many be necessary to add one more section at either the second or fourth grades at the Upper Elementary.

“We have two rooms the Sheridan building that could be used (for classrooms). At the UE (Upper Elementary), we have the art room and the former computer room as our only options. Space is at a premium,” he said.

In other business, the board also agreed, in a 7-0 vote, to expel two male high school students, each for 180 days.

“This is the third offense, three years in a row for one of those,” Helms told the board about the incident pertaining to illegal substance where the student was arrested on school property during the school’s homecoming dance.

“I have met with the parents to discuss what their options are, and did suggest attending another district would help the student attain credits as a faster rate. We will meet again now that I have the board’s decision,” said High School Principal Tony Petersen.

The other student was expelled for a weapons violation, and this family is also looking into alternative schooling, Petersen said.

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