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Enrollment numbers up at event

By Bethany Knipp

Central Enrollment numbers for the Manhattan-Ogden school district this year were the highest in the event’s 11-year history.

According to the numbers, 3,469 students were enrolled at Central Enrollment on July 30, which is 20 more than in 2013.

USD 383 Superintendent Bob Shannon discussed the data with the Manhattan-Ogden Board of Education at a Wednesday meeting.

The number of families who attended Central Enrollment also jumped, Shannon said. That number went from 2,168 to 2,315.

Central Enrollment was an opportunity for families to enroll their children in school, pay fees and support booster clubs.

Shannon said the event is “a great service for the parents.”

“It’s a lot of work. There are many aspects of it that are fun and enjoyable,” Shannon said.

Several board members said they enjoyed the event. They also asked about enrolling online to reduce the expenditure of time and money and also help out staff.

“I think it’s kind of time to move forward to look at some online things,” board member Pat Hudgins said. “I’d like to see that happen.”

She suggested opening enrollment online starting on July 1. “I like the personal touch, I think that’s important for a lot of people, and I think it’s time to start looking at some other ways to move forward,” she said.

On a related note, district officials revealed elementary schools are full.

“This year, the elementaries are very tight,” Associate Superintendent Robert Seymour said.

“At this moment we have about 240 students — elementary K-6 — above last Sept. 20’s count of students,” he said. The district had 3,346 K-6 students enrolled on Sept. 20, 2013, the official school enrollment count date statewide.

Seymour said a couple teaching positions that were downsized had to be brought back, and a teacher’s aide would be added to help out.

There will also be little room for students to transfer buildings. The same goes for out-of-district transfers.

“Due to the tightness, we will have some folks who wanted in-district transfers to certain buildings who are not going to be able to be at that building. In that class, in that building, it’s just full,” he said.

School administrators are also working to boost enrollment numbers for the Manhattan Virtual Academy, the online education program for USD 383 that serves seventh through 12th graders.

As of July 30, enrollment sits at 81 students.

The goal was to get about 200 students, said Brooke Blanck, the director of MVA.

This coming academic year is the first year of the program. In December of 2013, the district terminated its contract with its previous online education provider, K12 Inc.

The district decided to make its own program last winter and has since been setting it up and enrolling students.

“While we are certainly not where we want to be, we still do have time for more enrollments, and we are continuing to actually beef up our marketing efforts, so we can hopefully reach more and more students,” Blanck said.

Blanck said one theory for a lack of new enrollments was that K12 is now a competitor that has marketed more nationwide as it has lost students.

Blanck said MVA was also not coming up until the third page in an online search, though the site is working its way up.

However, some board members didn’t see small MVA enrollment numbers as a bad thing.

“I don’t mind being small to start with,” member Darell Edie said.

Board member Marcia Rozell agreed. “I’m OK with us being us being a little bit low in numbers and doing this well,” she said.

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