Sumner Co. Schools See Increased Enrollment Amid Budget Cuts
SUMNER COUNTY, Tenn.- As of Friday, there are 637 more students in Sumner County Schools. Increased enrollment is posing new challenges for principals across the district.
Schools often prepare to welcome more students each year but the growth at Station Camp Elementary is something no one could plan for.
"We're maybe a year or two away from adding portable classrooms to a two story building that already has about 960 students," said Principal Adam Cripps.
The school opened in 2008 with 750 students. Soon its population will be comparable to some of the high schools in the county.
"As those numbers increase and those resources are staying the same (and) it's a real challenge," Cripps added.
Everything from bathroom breaks to lunch have to be carefully coordinated.
"Our class sizes have really grown the past couple of years," kindergarten teacher Julie Moss said. "Like my first year here I had 16 students and this year I have 20."
Now, class sizes are at the state allowed maximums and tight budgets force necessary support positions to remain vacant.
"So all of our staff and faculty are having to work a little bit harder with those empty positions," Cripps explained. Keeping positions vacant won't force him to layoff staff later in the year once the district's budget is finalized.
Last year, 142 building permits for single family homes were issued in Gallatin. So far this year, 242 have been issued.
Those children have to go to school somewhere.
"You pretty much expect that you're not going to be able to get new resources," Cripps said.
At some point, something has to give.
Station Camp and other schools in Sumner County rely heavily on their parent/teacher organizations to fill in the gaps. Not only do they volunteer, they fundraise to help the school buy items like computers. Technology is one of the areas that suffer when budgets fall short.
The Sumner County school board is still finalizing how to cut millions from its budget. Along with freezing vacant positions, the district extended the window for retirements. Laying off staff will be the last resort.