By Alicia Neaves
ODESSA - It was the first day of classes for some students in West Texas. The Ector County School District predicts they will have more students than ever filling their classrooms. With enrollment expected to be at an all time high, how are they planning for potential overcrowding?
Schools in ECISD were buzzing this morning as students began their first day of classes. The district is preparing in advance for the unpredictable amount of students to enroll. Because, if it's anything like last year, nearly 1,000 extra kids enrolled just on day one.
"We fully expect to be over 31,000 this year, which will be another new record. We fully expect that. How far over 31,000, we are not sure," ECISD Director of Communications, Mike Adkins, said.
ECISD set a record last year in the total number of students. This year, they think they'll do it again.
"It was the first time, as a district, we had ever topped 30,000 in student enrollment. That was our largest enrollment ever," Adkins said.
Last year, nearly 1,000 more students enrolled on the first day. The second day, over 500. On day 10, the district totaled over 2,000 more enrollments since day one.
With the number of students going up and the number of teachers and bus drivers staying put, administrators meet every afternoon after the bell rings to discuss what moves they'll make to deal with the rapid growth.
"It beats going the other way and being a shrinking school district that's looking at laying off people, that can't get students, that has to close buildings and we are looking at other districts around the state that are having to do that," Adkins said.
The state requires the student to teacher ratio for grades kinder through 4th to be 22 to one. For grades five and up, there is no ratio rule.
"There is no guideline after 4th grade. There really isn't one. So locally we set one. It may be 25, it may be 26 depending on how realistic we know its gonna be," Adkins said.
Administrators say they will apply for waivers from the state to resume classes as-is with larger numbers.
In mid-September they will determine whether more teachers, teachers aids or more portables will be the route they go.
ECISD's first day enrollment number for the 2014-2015 school year was 29,499. That is 1,007 more students than last year.