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Blair Oaks begins another year of classes with more students

Blair Oaks begins another year of classes with more students

Scrambling to find chairs, space

August 16th, 2013 in News

The Blair Oaks School District is continuing to see signs of growth in its student population, although the spike this year isn't quite as intense as in the past.

Total enrollment was expected to be 1,148 pupils on Thursday when classes started. That is up from 1,124 last year - an increase of 24 pupils, or a 2.14 percent increase.

Blair Oaks Elementary will have about 30 new students, although eight students transferred out of the district over the summer. Last year the elementary school had 378 students; this fall about 395 are expected to start class today.

"We are scrambling to find chairs and space," said Elementary Principal Kim Rodriquez.

Blair Oaks High School will have a record-high school enrollment of 433 students, up from 419 students last school year. Of those 433 students, 11 have moved into the district recently and are not coming from parochial schools.

"We are going to have the largest freshman class ever with 128 students," said Gary Verslues, Blair Oaks High School principal.

Most of those freshman were part of a particularly large eighth-grade class last year or are students transferring in from area parochial schools.

Overall, Blair Oaks Middle School will have six fewer students this year.

Official enrollment data will be recorded on Sept. 25.

The district spends about $6,803 per pupil.

Although Blair Oaks administrators are approached from time to time by out-of-district parents who are interested in paying tuition to send their children there, it is a "closed" district.

"You have to be a property owner in the district to do that," Superintendent Jim Jones told the Board of Education at its regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday evening. "I think we had two students doing that last year and one this year."

The district is also continuing to see increases in its total assessed valuation. In 2012 total property in the district was valued at $92.3 million; this year property is valued at $93.7 million.

The bulk of the district's wealth comes from residential and personal property, not commercial or agricultural sources.

Also on Tuesday, the Board of Education held a tax rate hearing, but ultimately voted to keep the district's property tax rates the same as they've been for the past six years.

The operating levy will remain at $2.75 and the debt service levy will remain at 91 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. The last time the levies were increased was in 2007 when 30 cents was added to complete the Middle School.

The board also approved a $10.1 million budget on Tuesday. Of that amount, $9.1 million will be used to operate the schools; the rest will service the district's debts.