School addresses recent growth

POCAHONTAS, AR (KAIT) - The Pocahontas School District is working to address their recent spike in enrollment.

Just this year, the school's enrollment has gone up by 153 students.

In 2016, the district applied for funding to build a new elementary school and they will find out in March if they will receive funding for the new elementary building.

Superintendent Daryl Blaxton said if they do get the funding, construction on the new elementary school could be completed as soon as 2020.

However, now the district has also noticed a need for more space at the high school level.

Blaxton said in past years, the growth was very predictable.

"You could pretty much project from year to year exactly what class sizes were going to be," he said.  "So, it's created some new challenges, but thus far we've been able to meet those and make adjustments and we'll continue to do that."

The district will now be applying for partnership funding to add space to their high school building.

If they receive the funding older parts of the current building will be torn down and more space will be added.

Blaxton said the school will apply for the funding on February 1.

He said in March 2020, they will find out if they will receive the funding for the facility.

The school will also be addressing growth by adding more staff in 2018.

The district will be hiring seven more staff members for the next school year.

This means the school will nearly double the number of new hires they usually have at the beginning of each school year.

"We've identified seven new positions that we're going to need to add, just to meet the state standards as far as being within state student to teacher ratios," said Blaxton.

He said the school will be hiring three elementary teachers and an elementary art teacher.

They will also add a secondary science teacher, a secondary math teacher, and a special education teacher.

Blaxton said the positions have been posted and he hopes to have some recommendations for the school board at their February meeting.

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