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Fayette schools' enrollment keeps heading down

The Fayette County School System, which a decade ago could not build schools fast enough for the exploding population, reports it has lost nearly the equivalent of a full elementary school enrollment so far this year.

The system reports it has 481 fewer students this year than the same time last year. The biggest declines came in the elementary and high school grades.

It is a trend that began by mid-decade and one that is continuing today. The brand-new $10 million Rivers Elementary School — built to serve 600 students — on Sandy Creek Road has an enrollment of fewer than 100 special education students.

Figures provided by the school system showed that total enrollment as of early October was 21,426 compared to 21,907 students at the same time last year, a difference of 481 fewer students. The decline in school enrollment put the student population at about what it was in 2005 when enrollment was 21,531.

School system spokesperson Melinda Berry-Dreisbach accounted for at least a portion of the declining population.

“Our economy is still struggling. Locally, as well as nationally, families have faced foreclosures, lost their homes and have moved to other areas to live with family, or to counties with more affordable housing,” Berry-Dreisbach said Monday.

“Home sales are flat, so we don’t have children moving in to replace those who either move out or graduate. Also, some of the change may be attributed to our aggressive approach over the last several years to withdraw students who do not meet residency requirements,” she said.

In terms of the loss of 481 students, the big hits in the decrease in enrollment came in the elementary and high schools grades. The county’s high schools saw a decrease of 198 students this year along with 211 fewer students in elementary schools and a decrease of 72 students in middle schools.

Total high school enrollment in early October was 7,619 compared to 7,817 a year ago, representing a decrease of 198 students. Only Starr’s Mill and the Open Campus high school showed gains over last year, with Starr’s Mill adding 34 students and the Open Campus school adding 12.

The high schools showing a loss of student enrollment over last year included Fayette County High at 51, McIntosh High at 13, Sandy Creek High at 88, Whitewater at 126 and the Alternative High School at seven.

Decreasing enrollment is also a fact of life at the county’s public elementary schools where the student population in early October was 8,644. That compares to 8,855 elementary students a year ago, a decrease of 211 students.

A survey of individual elementary schools showed that six schools gained students and 11 schools lost students.

Those increasing enrollment included Tyrone Elementary with 15 students, Peachtree City Elementary with 12, Oak Grove Elementary with 23, Kedron Elementary with 11, Cleveland Elementary with five and Brooks Elementary with one more student.

The elementary schools showing a loss in student population over last year included Braelinn Elementary with 39 fewer students, Burch Elementary with 55, Crabapple Elementary with 14, Fayetteville Intermediate with 20, Hood Avenue Primary with 14, Huddleston Elementary with 30, Inman Elementary with 14, North Fayette Elementary with 20, Peeples Elementary with 32, Minter Elementary with 27 and Spring Hill Elementary with 22 fewer students than last year.

The least affected in terms of decreasing enrollment were the county’s middle schools where 72 fewer students were attending in early October compared to a year ago.

Only two middle schools showed an increase in student population this year. Those included Booth Middle with an additional 24 students and Flat Rock Middle with additional 28.

On the down side, Bennett’s Mill Middle lost 20 students along with four at Fayette Middle, 67 at Rising Star Middle, 34 at Whitewater Middle and five at the Alternative Middle School.

A look at the enrollment figures from the past 11 years were calculated during the second half of the school year. The exception is with the current year that is based on the most recent report from Oct. 4. The numbers show a steady increase in the student population from 2001 through 2007. Those figures began to decline in 2008, a trend that continues into the current school year.

2011 - 21,448 (as of Oct. 4)

2010 - 21,828

2009 - 22,047

2008 - 22,108

2007 - 22,367

2006 - 22,291

2005 - 21,531

2004 - 21,195

2003 - 21,314

2002 - 20,337

2001 - 19,832



suggarfoot's picture

It seems that the AJC did a report on the background on each BOE member.

It seems that after all Smith, Smola and their little minion, (what was his name's?) talk about Dr Todd wanting redistricting..and all you guys on the 'buggars commin to get you' email trees that were told how Dr Todd was going to redistrict...Remember the ball face lie that one of the [other 2] were pedaling and got caught by the people in High Grove?

Well all you SMithites and Smolites...LOOK AT THE VOTE!

Votes on key issues 2007-

Smith- Redistricting, in favor

Smola- Redistricting in 2007, in favor

Dr Todd - Redistricting, against;

Marion Key - Redistricting, against

I would also like you to notice the education, or lack there of, of the one board member that was running around smacking their lips about all their background and credentials. Well looki looki...they never even went 4 years! I'll give you a hint, she was the only one that they didn't put the question next to their name..recall attempts or ethics complaints.

Wonder what Bennett's Mill total enrollment is now? 400? What if the kids that live near Booth Middle actually went to the school near their homes? BMMS would have about 100 kids!

grassroots's picture

Last year after the loss of students the cost was around $8900 per student. After Ben's research in this column, truth be known it must really now be over $10K per student counting all the bonds, construction; etc they normally don't count. More people need to attend BOE meetings and ask 'where's all the money going?" Not knocking teachers or our students but there is a nation wide trend of the foxes watching the hen house. Teachers Unions and BOE's are draining the state and county's budgets. Gov Chris Christie of New Jersey is a dragon slayer. A recent study showed private schools operating at an average of 40% less than public schools.

Newsboy's picture

Fayette County is definitely not finished growing. If and when the economy rebounds, the numbers will start to creep back up. There's still too much available land and too many good reasons for families to live in Fayette County to allow for growth to be over.

Now, will there be a need to build any new schools anytime soon? No. The wave of new school construction in this county is over. In fact, I doubt seriously if even steady growth over the next 10-15 years would justify that another new high school ever be built. The campuses we have now are perfectly adequate to accommodate another 5,000 rise in student enrollment.

This "blip" in history will actually prove to be a good thing for Fayette County in the long wrong, allowing it to catch up and breath after 30 years of non-stop, dizzying growth. But there's certainly no reason to panic, nor celebrate. It is what it is.

Newsboy's picture


The future of Fayette county school enrollment continues to look dire.

Last year around this time, I told you about how the median age in Fayette county was much higher than the state of Georgia. Since then, it has only gotten worse.

Last year, the median age in Georgia was 33, and the median age in PTC was 39.9. The latest numbers area out, Georgia is still 33, but PTC's median age is now 40.9!

Other median ages: Tyrone-39, Brooks-41, Woolsey-42 and Fayetteville-36.

These high median ages spell disaster for Fayette elementary schools. Subtract six years (average age of Kindergartner) from the median age above and ask yourself how many mothers do you know are giving birth at that age: For example, PTC mothers giving birth at 34.9 years? Simple answer: very few. This is proving once and for all that Fayette is at best a "move up" community...people move here with children generally older than elementary school age.

Unfortunately, rather than expand middle school and high school capacity in existing populated areas, the FCBOE (primarily the Gang of Three) gambled spectacularly with the public's money and built unneeded ELEMENTARY school capacity. Why? Because builders can charge a superpremium for houses within walking distance to elementary schools! (Ask any realtor). Conversely, builders seek to avoid building near middle and high schools because kids cause "trouble" at that age. That's a major reason why Bennett's Mill Middle School was built in the middle of nowhere.

Speaking of demographics, what really will strike fear into the hearts of the Teahadists might be the shifting racial demographic in Fayette County. In 2000, Fayette was 89% white. In 2006, the percentage of white folks had dwindled to 81%. The results of the 2010 census should arrive very soon, too. "The Negroes Is Comin'! The Negroes Is Comin'!"

suggarfoot's picture

"Unfortunately, rather than expand middle school and high school capacity in existing populated areas, the FCBOE (primarily the Gang of Three) gambled spectacularly with the public's money and built unneeded ELEMENTARY school capacity."

The above was one of the key things Dr Todd believed in, as needed, adding on to what he have. Unfortunatly, there was a rash of email trees spewing that he was gonna redistrict if re elected. His, and Marion Key's last vote on redistricing tell the truth. They voted against it. The other 2 voted for it.

And it doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that all the new schools we didn't need are built along the glorious by pass to no where.

Look at the background on AJC of the 2 that pushed the hardest for these schools. One was not a teacher very long, married a developer and the rest is history. The 2nd one blew smoke about their background and experience. Only when the smoke settled did people see she had a 2 year degree and her major was not remotely in business! The thing the two of them had in common was that they were blow hards and found a friend in the 3rd BOE.

With that tragic combination, they had control of the BOE.

But we have a wonderful candidate running for Lee Wright's position in Nov. We have Dr Tolbert. A wonderful man with a wonderful background. Once he is elected, it will be a new day in Fayette county. The BOE will go back to making decisions with children and teachers first, much the same as it was 10 years ago before the reign of the 3 amingos began.

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