Lindbergh Schools’ enrollment increases by 173 students this year

District’s official enrollment lags projection for this year

Sappington Elementary fifth-graders moved to Sperreng Middle School this year to free up space at the overcrowded elementary school. Above, Sappington fifth-graders shown at Sperreng at the beginning of this school year.

Sappington Elementary fifth-graders moved to Sperreng Middle School this year to free up space at the overcrowded elementary school. Above, Sappington fifth-graders shown at Sperreng at the beginning of this school year.

By Mike Anthony

Lindbergh Schools’ enrollment increased by 173 students for the 2016-2017 school year compared to last year, according to Brian McKenney, assistant superintendent of human resources.

McKenney was scheduled to present the district’s official enrollment numbers for the current school year to the Board of Education Tuesday night — after the Call went to press.

The district’s total enrollment for the 2016-2017 school year is 6,736 students, up from 6,563 in September 2015.

At the elementary level, enrollment totals 3,080 students, an increase of 139 students compared to last September.

Middle school enrollment totals 1,567 students, up 27 students compared to September 2015.

Enrollment at Lindbergh High School totals 2,089 students, an increase of seven students compared to last September.

In a memo to Superintendent Jim Simpson, McKenney wrote, “Please note that enrollment will continue throughout the school year, and projections indicate that enrollment numbers will continue to rise throughout the current year and in years to come.”

Because of the surging enrollment, nine new teacher positions were included in the district’s 2016-2017 budget to accommodate an anticipated 312 new students.

In the previous two years, 34 additional teachers have been hired to handle the enrollment growth and to keep class sizes small.

The annual cost — salaries and benefits — of the 43 new teachers to accommodate Lindbergh’s enrollment growth totals $2.5 million.

While the district had anticipated 312 new students this year, Simpson told the Call that a lack of available housing is the reason official enrollment lagged behind the projected enrollment.

“What is slowing our growth down is a shortage of available homes. There is a tremendous short supply of homes for sale in our district … If you go out there on the market and say, ‘I’m going to get a Lindbergh house,’ you think you’ll have dozens to choose from. You’ll have almost none to choose from … because the second they come on the market there will be multiple bids,” he said, adding, “You end up not getting it.”

As a result, Simpson said, “You can’t get hundreds of new families when you don’t have hundreds of new houses, hundreds of homes for sale. So that is slowing us down. It’s a new wrinkle.

“We’ve come to the point that our housing market doesn’t really allow many people to move into the district because there’s a lack of supply.”

Given the lack of available houses, Simpson believes the district will not reach the projected 312 new students, but “I think we’ll probably grow 50 students” before the school year ends.