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Clovercroft a poster child of WCS enrollment

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Clovercroft Elementary School opened one year ago this month in east Williamson County.  Planners at the Williamson County Schools central office thought they had several years of growth built in before the school got close to capacity.

Almost 750 students were registered there when school opened on Aug. 9.

It’s a scene that was repeated at several county schools this month. At the Aug. 20 WCS board meeting, Superintendent Dr. Mike Looney reported that enrollment numbers increased by almost 900 students over the 2011-12 school year, with a total of 32,814 students now enrolled. Overall the district is at 97 percent of its optimum capacity, with several schools well over their optimum populations.

Looney noted he is extremely concerned about the rapid student population growth at Clovercroft, which draws a small number of students from the Willowmet subdivision in east Brentwood and most of its students from McKay’s Mill, Avalon, Chardonnay and Breezeway subdivisions. All of the neighborhoods are still being developed, with new residents continuing to move into newly constructed homes.

The one-year-old school’s optimum capacity is 890.

Discussion about the Clovercroft population arose at the August board meeting when residents of Hadden Hall subdivision -- which is adjacent to McKay’s Mill but zoned for Franklin Special School District’s Liberty Elementary School -- made a request to the WCS board that their children be allowed to attend Clovercroft through open enrollment. The parents stated they wanted their children to attend the same elementary school and district as surrounding neighborhoods.

The WCS board denied the request, with Clovercroft’s rapid population growth cited as one of the reasons.

“It is another example of the added value a Williamson County School can bring to a neighborhood," Looney said of the school's unexpected growth. "There is an absolute connection to turning dirt for a new school and housing development in the immediate area.

“Clovercroft has created a mini housing boom in the general area. This will add pressure to our five-year capital plan moving forward.”

In the rest of the county, student enrollment growth continues at a fast pace. The superintendent also reported that there are a surprising number of new families in the Brentwood area schools, primarily due to existing housing turnover.

“This development was unexpected, and we will continue to monitor how it will impact our district’s projections and plans moving forward,” Looney said.

As reported in the county’s Five-Year Projection Summary, many schools are already or are projected to reach over 100 percent fill rate.

Looney said the district has several management plans in place to help deal with schools that have grown beyond their comfort zones.

“We will not move portables (in) unless it is absolutely necessary,” Looney said. “We manage the overage by placing selected teachers on carts. They will use vacant classrooms throughout the day when other students are in PE, lunch, etc.”

Also, after massive rezoning in 2010, the impact continues to be revealed this school year.

“Rezoning provided us with much needed relief in most of our overcrowded schools,” Looney said, but he acknowledged there is still a need to relieve overcrowding at Ravenwood High School.

The school board reevaluates the five-year plan each fall, so discussion about population growth will continue as the school year progresses.

The district’s high academic standards and reputation are one of the primary reasons cited by those moving into Williamson County.

Earlier this week, for instance, nine district schools were recognized for their continued excellence in academic performance and growth.

To view the WCS Five-Year Projection Summary, click here.

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