Area enrollments are up at all schools in the county - except for one.

Actual certification day isn’t until Oct. 1, but superintendents and principals at Marlow, Central High, Velma-Alma, Empire and Comanche are pleased to see larger enrollment numbers. Bray-Doyle, though, is at 457 students and figures were not available for the end of last year.

Most of the growth is at the elementary level, which is to be expected, said Central High Elementary Principal LeAnn Johnson, a school that appears to be experiencing the biggest increase.

Central High, situated between Marlow and Lawton, has gained new population because of new homes being built in the rural community.

“The homes being built — so many of them are within a mile of the school — so they walk or ride their bikes,” Johnson said Tuesday.

“It’s a new thing for Central High. Just this morning, we talked about getting a bike rack.”

At the prekindergarten through eighth-grade levels, enrollment on Monday was at 211, compared to 203 at the end of the 2006-07 school year. In the middle school, grades six through eight, enrollment figures are 99, compared to 93 at the end of last year. The only campus at CH without an increase is the high school, with 110 students enrolled. Johnson pointed out that as students get older, families are more reluctant to pack up and move when their children are in high school.

“Our high school will see the growth as these kids grow up,” she said.

In adjusting for the elementary campus growth, Johnson said classes were split. There are now two classes each of prekindergarten, kindergarten and first grade.

“The people building homes out here seem to be having younger kids,” she said. Instead of adding a teacher’s aide for the 30 students in each of those grades, the district split the classes so the students would continue to receive individual instruction.

Johnson, a Central High graduate with parents who also claim CH alumni status, has been employed with the district for 18 years. She has been principal for the last six years. She’s amazed at the seventh-grade enrollment numbers.

“Seventh-grade has 50 right now, and this school has never had a class of 50. Last year, there were 44, 45,” she said. “I just can’t imagine how big that class will be when they graduate.”

When Johnson graduated, there were only 20 in her class.

She said the most consistent growth occurs at the bottom and that most of the new population is from new residents. She said that additional bus routes haven’t been added. Johnson has spoken with many of the new families and discovered that the new people are not necessarily new to southwest Oklahoma.

“As I have visited with them, a great deal of them are military. Families have moved from Lawton or Duncan because they didn’t want to live in town,” she said.

Marlow, only seven miles east of Central High and about 30 from Lawton, has an increase of 20 students compared to this same time a year ago. That increase is at the middle school campus, said Superintendent George Coffman.

But compared to the end of the 2006-07 school year, Coffman said enrollment figures are up by 42.

At Marlow Elementary, figures Tuesday were 284; middle school, 684; and high school, 396. Coffman said those numbers can fluctuate throughout September for many reasons as people continue to move in and out of the area.

“Jobs are up and down, but the oil field is doing good. There’s not a whole lot of housing in the Marlow community, and that hurts us,” Coffman said.

He said Marlow does get a considerable number of transfer requests, but he doesn’t see the need to open those.

“It depends on the numbers and where we’re at,” he said. “Enrollment is pretty much about the same (at the high school), right around 400 kids.”

Coffman said he has noticed that there appears to be fewer vehicles parked around the campus and that could be attributed to the higher fuel costs.

Coffman also keeps an eye on the growth at Central High and its possible impact on Marlow in the coming years.

“There’s a potential there (for Marlow school growth), with the BRAC realignment and housing built at Central High,” he said. “It’s a really small school there, and they could have trouble with enrollment. It’s dependent upon BRAC and there’s always a potential for Marlow to grow. Those kids could come this way or to Duncan, Empire. There’s a potential we could gain some enrollment.”

In Empire, Elementary Principal John Kingery said enrollment is 326, with a third classroom added for the 4-year-old program. The district ended the 2006-07 year with 311 students.

High school ending figures for last year were 209, and on Tuesday, enrollment was 220.

At Velma-Alma, Superintendent Jerry Garrett said enrollment figures are at 445, compared to the ending figure of 435 last year.

And in Comanche, Superintendent Terry Davidson also reported that enrollment is up with 570 in the elementary, up by about nine. Enrollment for the middle school is 240 and, in the high school, 332. Total enrollment is 1,142 compared to 1,112 for the entire year of 2006-07.

Davidson said that 1989 saw the highest enrollment figure and then in 1995, the district was at the end of an eight-year decline.

This year, Comanche School District has absorbed several transfers from other districts.

“We’re off to a good start and we’re excited,” he said.

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