Students have returned to school for the fall semester. Washington, Barr-Reeve, North Daviess and Washington Catholic have wrapped up their first week of classes. One thing school officials are keeping an eye on is the number of students in their districts. A loss of 10 students could cost $60,000 in state student support. So while the official count may not be available to officials for a couple more weeks, school leaders are finding that at least in the early going they are either staying close to where they were last year or increasing. It is all part of a five year trend that shows Daviess County continues to slowly grow its overall population.
“Our preliminary count stands at 2,565,” said Washington Schools Superintendent Dr. Dan Roach. “That is pretty much in line with what we had last year.”
That number is very close to what the Washington Community Schools have had in terms of enrollment for the last five years.
“The thing is we know this is a growing community,” said Roach. “That means we need to be prepared with facilities to meet that growth. If we had one big burst of kids, we would really be scrambling for space. We are out of closets.”
Washington is in a cooling off period on a proposal to build some new school facilities.
“We don’t have adequate space for our current programming,” said Roach. “We are answering questions from people about our plans at this time.”
At Washington Catholic, the numbers have shown growth of the last five years even at the high school.
“We have 75 kids in the high school,” said Karie Craney, WC Middle-High School principal. “That is up about six from last year. That seems to be what we have been seeing in the last few years — a bump of five or six students each year.”
On the elementary level, WC has seen growth, but much of it has to do with the way the state counts students and the popularity of its preschool program. Last year was the first time the state counted students in preschool programs. That added 169 students to the total at the elementary.
“Our enrollment is good,” said Craney. “The preschoolers counting has been really good for us.”
What has also been good is the use of vouchers.
“That has been a positive thing for our schools,” said Father Paul Ferguson, pastor for Our Lady of Hope and supervisor for Washington Catholic Schools. “It has been helpful.”
One of the constant questions around Washington is how long the Washington Catholic Schools will continue to have a high school. Given the growth that was described both in the total school population and at the high school specifically it appears that W.C. will be keeping the doors to the middle-high school open.
“We are going to keep chugging along,” said Ferguson
At North Daviess the schools has pretty much held at the same level for the last five years and that trend is continuing this year.
“My best guess is that we are going to be very close to last year which was 1,168,” said North Daviess School Superintendent Robert Bell. “We may be up a few. We won’t really know until after Labor Day.”
“I know we have some kids that have not arrived for school yet,” added North Daviess Director of Instruction and Technology Jodi Berry. “One of those is our lone exchange student.”
Exchange students are a very small part of the student enrollment numbers around the area. Washington Catholic reported four foreign exchange students and Barr-Reeve has a couple. Washington has 2 foreign exchange students.
Barr-Reeve may be showing the most growth. That is particularly true in the kindergarten and first grades where classes of 100 students are replacing graduating senior classes in the 40s.
“We are in a good situation,” said Barr-Reeve School Superintendent Dr. Travis Madison. “Our enrollment is at 964. That is almost 30 more than last year.”
Barr-Reeve is now in the midst of a building project, fueled by the expanded number of students. According to the Indiana Department of Education, Barr-Reeve’s total enrollment climbed by 150 students over the last five years.
One thing that tends to impact the numbers at both Barr-Reeve and North Daviess is the number of kids who come from the Amish community. “We will lose some of them right after they complete kindergarten and then again after the eighth grade,” said Madison. “In all, we will lose around 10% of our students because they are part of the Amish community.”
Schools by the Numbers
Middle/ Primary Elementary Total
2014-15 381 165 249 786
2015-16 371 165 270 806
2016-17 387 147 286 820
2017-18 403 145 303 851
2018-19 443 172 320 935
Elementary Jr./Sr. Total
2014-15 688 * 487 1,175
2015-16 687 ** 503 1,190
2016-17 692 474 1,166
2017-18 727 483 1,210
2018-19 712 477 1,189
* includes 12 pre-kindergarten students
** includes 16 pre-kindergarten students
Elementary MS/HS Total
2014-15 200+ 132 332
2015-16 173 158 331
2016-17 187 172 359
2017-18 327 163 490
2018-19 315 162 477 ++
+ Last year before grade 5 moved to the middle school
++ 169 pre-kindergarten students
Washington Community Schools
Elementary Junior High High School Total
2014-15 1,462 391 714 2,567
2015-16 1,413 395 736 2,544
2016-17 1,436 402 745 2,583
2017-18 1,454 384 767 2,605
2018-19 1,422 397 751 2,570
Source: Indiana Department of Education