Wednesday’s enrollment count reached 39,039 students, school spokeswoman Barbara Jacoby said in a news release the same day.
Since the first day of school, an additional 817 students have enrolled, including 47 students on Wednesday alone. The district has exceeded its projected peak enrollment of 38,925 by 114 students.
Superintendent Dr. Frank Petruzielo said the increasing enrollment is further evidence that more families are learning about Cherokee schools and making the choice to enroll their children in district schools.
He also took the opportunity to note the district’s new program offerings as a draw for many parents and students.
“As the school district nears enrollment of 40,000, it also means we have a large enough student population to offer additional specialized academic programs for our students,” Petruzielo said.
Petruzielo noted the addition of the Cherokee Academies initiative and planned future phases of the program that will include a technical high school planned with input from Chattahoochee Technical College and a performing and visual arts high school to be planned with input from Reinhardt University.
The superintendent did admit that the rush of students is likely to further strain the school system’s already-stretched budget. The Cherokee County Board of Education approved a budget of $518 million at its June 25 meeting, which included hefty cuts to bus transportation and eight furlough days for all staff and teachers.
“In terms of the immediate impact to operations, we continuously monitor class size and bus routes and hire additional teachers and other staff as needed, which does impact the budget,” Petruzielo said. “The school board’s decision to use furlough days as opposed to further depleting reserves in order to balance the 2012-13 school year budget puts the school district in a better position to deal with these and other costs associated with higher-than-anticipated enrollment.”
Though the district anticipated enrollment increases for Etowah High School, Clark Creek and Ball Ground elementary schools, all three saw more growth than the district initially forecasted, Petruzielo said.
Both Clark Creek and Ball Ground are new facilities this school year and also serve as science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, Academies.
“This growth can be attributed to the great reputations of Etowah (High School) and Ball Ground (Elementary School) and of the team leading the new Clark Creek (Elementary School),” Petruzielo said.