Lea County Schools Dealing with Spike in Student Growth

By: Sarah Snyder
NewsWest 9

The school buses, cafeteria lines, and hallways are busier than ever. Hobbs, Lovington, Eunice, and Seminole districts all report a big jump in the number of students this year. It's got school officials making new plans to keep up.

When the numbers added up for Seminole and 3 Lea County districts this year, the total equalled big growth.

"The only way I can describe it is, wow!" Eunice Public Schools Administrator Dwain Haynes, said. "We have problems to solve, which is a good thing."

Since 2004, there has been a steady decline in the number of students in the Eunice school district, but in the past few months, they've seen a big jump in the student population. School officials say it's thanks to a new industry in town.

"We believe our population this year has increased due to the construction people that they're bringing in," Haynes said.

With a 5% growth since last year, Eunice schools are trying to add additional teachers.

"We need houses for teachers," Haynes said. "Right now, I'm hurting to bring teachers into the district as a result of not having enough houses."

In May, Eunice will vote on the largest school bond in district history - $42 million - used to add new facilities.

"We are looking to build a brand new elementary," Hayes said.

Over in Hobbs, officials are planning to add more buildings to accomodate the new students, whose population rose by 2%.

"That's the highest we've been in 10 years," Joe Loving, Asst. Superintendent for the Hobbs Municipal Schools said.

Since last year, they've hired 100 extra teachers.

"We're building some new schools, we've got some major projects upgrading our schools, and we're trying to be proactive," Loving said.

And on Tuesday, Seminole ISD received updated numbers. They're up over 100 new students since last year. But all the school leaders are hoping their everchanging student numbers will equal new opportunities.

"It's exciting," Loving said. "The growth has it's own problems keeping up with facilities and everything, but those problems are better problems to have than when you get smaller and you can't offer services, so it's an exciting time for us."