Watson Chapel enrollment declining, superintendent says

A total of 2,895 students attend the Watson Chapel School District according to figures released during the annual public report Monday night before the regular monthly meeting of the district board of directors.

Superintendent Danny Hazelwood opened with an overview of the school district.

“Our enrollment numbers across the district have gone down,” Hazelwood said. “We have less kids in grades K through six than we have in grades seven through 12. That does not bode well for the future. There are several causes for this trend and they include people moving out of Jefferson County as well as the new school choice law and the opening of the new Quest Middle School. We need to continue to provide the best education and environment for our kids. We are losing less students than other districts in the area. That is small consolation but it is the best that we have right now.”

Brenda Melton, assistant superintendent for instruction, provided a school performance report.

“We have no schools on the state school improvement list,” Melton said. “Our 2013 benchmark test results indicate improvement in math and literacy. These tests are administered beginning with grade three and going through end-of-course exams in high school.”

Melton said the district is working diligently to improve low test scores.

“We are using professional development for our teachers including a district math coach and Elbow-2-Elbow consultants,” Melton said. “We are also using classroom walk-through training and student assessments using The Learning Institute. Our students with academic deficiencies are given many opportunities to improve. Remediation is scheduled during the instructional day for all students in grades three through eleven for those scoring less than proficient on the benchmark exams. An after-school tutoring program will begin Oct. 1 for students in grades two through six.”

Melton said the district composite ACT score is 18, which is one point below the 19 required for students to receive an Academic Challenge Scholarship through the Arkansas Lottery.

“We have enhancement classes in the high school for students to do better on the ACT and a summer ACT program is planned for next summer,” Melton said.

“Watson Chapel High School had a graduation rate of 83 percent last year and an attendance rate of 96 percent for the 2012-2013 school year,” Melton said. “The dropout rate is 3 percent.”

Student enrollment

Edgewood Elementary School has a total of 450 students with 224 in kindergarten and 226 in the first grade.

L. L. Owen Elementary School has 417 students which principal Tim Taylor said is up from last year’s 386 students.

Coleman Intermediate School has 573 students with 165 fourth graders; 199 fifth graders; and 209 sixth graders.

Watson Chapel Junior High School has a total of 741 students with 238 seventh graders; 263 eighth graders; and 240 ninth graders.

Watson Chapel High School has 714 students with 239 tenth graders; 236 eleventh graders; and 289 twelfth graders.