School enrollment growth

Schools in Monroe County have seen a slight fluctuation in student enrollment numbers with the start of the new school year.

The influx of students is accompanied bby a number of new faculty and staff, particularly in the Columbia and Waterloo district schools.

Waterloo reports 2,772 students throughout its school district, a slight increase from the 2,728 pupils last year.

Zahnow Elementary (grades pre-K-1) has 477 students, Rogers Elementary (grades 2-3) has 371 students, Gardner Elementary (grades 4-5) has 405 students, Waterloo Junior High School (grades 6-8) has 617 students and Waterloo High School has 902 students, according to Waterloo Superintendent of Schools Brian Charron.

These numbers – particularly at Gardner and WHS – are all up slightly except for WJHS, which is down 17 students.

Charron said enrollment numbers for his district were largely unaffected by the COVID pandemic, which has resulted in reduced enrollment numbers in some schools throughout the state due to parents opting for homeschooling or remote learning.

“Our fourth grade group grew by 12 students. Our sixth grade group grew by 11 students,” Charron said. “Each of the other grades had single-digit changes to their total. I can’t identify any particular reasoning behind the changes.”

New staff in Waterloo includes former Columbia Middle School Principal Angie Huels, who was hired as principal of Gardner in July.

Columbia similarly saw a minor increase in enrollment from last year, increasing to 1,987 students from 1,975 last year.

Eagleview Elementary (grades pre-K-1) has 287 students, Parkview Elementary (grades 2-4) has 429 students, Columbia Middle School (grades 5-8) has 606 students and Columbia High School has 633 students.

CMS is the only school with increased enrollment from last year, but the increase in students offsets the loss of the other schools for a total increase in the district.

The Columbia school district has had to replace multiple teaching and administrative positions over the summer, though Columbia Superintendent of Schools Chris Grode is generally optimistic about the year to come.

“We’ve had some turnover,” Grode confirmed. “Very excited with the team that we’ve got, and looking forward to a great year.”

Valmeyer is the only district in Monroe County to see an enrollment decrease, down to 337 students from 354 last year.

The district’s elementary school has 132 students, the junior high has 86 students and the high school has 119 students.

Private schools have also seen increases in their enrollment this year.

Gibault Catholic High School’s enrollment increased slightly from 177 students to 184 this year.

Gibault Director of Enrollment and Student Experience Kelly Day said the school has experienced an increase in numbers every year for the past few years, seemingly unaffected by the pandemic.

“I would not say that we experienced a dip,” Day said. “If anything, we ended up with more transfer students coming in because we were in the building full-time whereas a lot of the public schools had half days or there was a lot more online learning coming from them.”

Ss. Peter & Paul Catholic School also saw an increase to 245 students from last year’s total of 240. SPPCS Principal Lori Matzenbacher said the change is largely in the school’s K-8 grades.

“We’ve been increasingly going up over the last couple years,” Matzenbacher. “Each year is a little bit more. We haven’t gone down in the last couple years.”

According to Immaculate Conception School Principal David Gregson, the school saw a number of families join, along with four students coming from public schools.

Enrollment at ICS stands at 408 students this year, an 11-student increase from last year.

Gregson, who joined as ICS principal last school year, also commented on his second year at the Columbia school and his positive expectations of the months to come.

“Everything is always easier the second time through,” Gregson said. “Last year there were some challenges, but ICS is a great school, great parent support, great staff to work with, and I’m excited. We’re excited to get the kids here and get them back to learning and developing.”

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Andrew Unverferth

HTC web