Lindbergh enrollment to rise by over 300 students this fall

District enrollment marches toward 8,000-student mark

Lindbergh Schools students, administrators, Board of Education members and Missouri Board of Education Vice President Vic Lenz, right, join Ollie Dressel, left foreground, last October to break ground for the new 650-student Dressel Elementary School.

Lindbergh Schools students, administrators, Board of Education members and Missouri Board of Education Vice President Vic Lenz, right, join Ollie Dressel, left foreground, last October to break ground for the new 650-student Dressel Elementary School.

By Mike Anthony

Lindbergh Schools officials are projecting an increase of over 300 students for the 2016-2017 school year.

The projected increase of 312 students for the coming school year marks the first time enrollment has been forecast to increase by more than 300 students, according to Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources Brian McKenney.

“… This is exciting news. It’s also challenging news, but for the first time we’re projecting for next year an increase in student enrollment of over 300 students — 312, to be exact,” he recently told the Board of Education. “While the majority of these additional students will enter the district at the elementary level …, we’re starting to see enrollment growth impact the numbers at the secondary-school levels, as well.”

Over the next four years, McKenney projects the district’s enrollment will increase by 1,084 students.

At the elementary level, he is projecting an increase of 174 students for the 2016-2017 school year and 411 students over the next four years.

For the coming school year, McKenney is forecasting an increase of 65 students for the district’s two middle schools and 365 students over the next four years.

At Lindbergh High School, he is projecting an increase of 73 students for the 2016-2017 school year and 308 students over the next four years.

“… The board and the district have been very proactive and effective in planning for growth. Both middle schools are well-positioned for the future, thanks to Prop R 2008,” McKenney said at the March 8 board meeting, referring to a $31 million, no-tax-rate-increase bond issue approved by voters in November 2008.

The construction of Dressel Elementary School, funded by a $34 million bond issue approved by voters in April 2014, will ease the enrollment growth at the elementary level, he noted.

“Dressel Elementary School, an exciting new development, is on schedule to open in 2017, thanks to Prop G, and additional space is ready to be made at the high school in 2017 thanks to the central operations move to the former Johnny’s Market property,” McKenney said. “However, these projections do indicate that growth will continue to be the district’s primary challenge for years to come — five, 10 years, even farther. Lindbergh’s tradition of strategic planning for the future will continue to be required, if we’re to meet the space and personnel needs. Our district enrollment marches steadily toward the 8,000-student mark …”

Superintendent Jim Simpson said more teachers and more classrooms are the answer to dealing with the growth.

“We have hired 34 teachers in the last 24 months at a cost of over $2 million, and that keeps our class sizes at the level they are right now,” he said. “Had we not done that, we would already be talking about classes over 30 (students) common throughout the district. So we’ve been very pleased that we’ve been able to hire those additional (teachers) and keep Lindbergh Lindbergh …”

Growth is an exciting challenge, Simpson said, but more teachers and more classroom space will continue to be required, based upon the enrollment projections.

“… We’ve always delivered and we’ve always found those, and we will continue to do that in the future. It’s not so easy, but we will continue,” he said.

Board President Kathy Kienstra said, “It’s both exciting and frightening at the same time …”