More space is a necessity, but adjustments will be implemented this year as the student population progresses to grow in Carthage.
“Right now the projection is between 80 to 110 more students for the 2013/2014 school year,” said Dr. Mark Baker, business superintendent for the Carthage R-9 School District. “The pre-kindergarten enrollment is a little more than 400, which is the highest ever.”
Last year, the district added 13 new positions in response to the growth; and this year, an additional 10. Even though space is a precious commodity, the administration has continued to successfully keep the classroom sizes down. Also, in adjustment to the growing population, some education entities have had to move.
For example: Fairview Elementary School is now utilizing all classroom space with the addition of two new teachers, and the District-Wide Title I Preschool moved to Steadley Elementary School. The early childhood special education has moved to rented space at the Fairview Christian Church, and the Parents As Teachers department has moved to 127 E. 6th St., across from the Carthage Junior High School.
“We have outgrown everything,” said PAT supervisor Jane Goade. “In a perfect world, we would have an early childhood education center. But we’re workable here and we have professionals that make it work in the other locations.”
Teachers and other staff throughout the district have adjusted to performing their duties in whatever space is available, including modular units connected to the schools and (another example) a former computer lab at the junior high.
Baker said the amount needed to ease the space issue in the district would not be sufficed by grant writing, but by another school bond tax. The next opportunity for that possible relief will be next year, and Baker said in his experience, the Carthage area is kind to the needs of education.
“I think the community support has been tremendous these past few years,” he said. “The community has voted for an operating levy, bond issue and other bonds for the tech center that needed votes. So yes, we’ve been very pleased with the community’s support.”