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Hillsborough enrollment is slightly higher but fluctuates seasonally

TAMPA — Enrollment is up in Hillsborough County's public schools, with most of the new students in charter schools.

The district's annual 20-day count showed about 3,000 more students than in fall 2011 for a total of 199,050.

Those numbers reflect an increase of roughly 2,100 in the growing field of charter schools, said Janet Spence, director of planning and related services.

She said it is not clear how many of the additional students are new residents to Hillsborough County and how many are longtime residents who moved from private schools to charters, which use public funds but operate independently.

Either way, the numbers are a moving target.

As with magnet schools, students sometimes begin the year in charter schools and then move back to their neighborhood schools because of transportation difficulties.

That was one of the problems at the A.T. Jones Math, Science and Technology Academy, which suffered a drop in enrollment last year and closed in the summer.

Districtwide, enrollment is down slightly in elementary schools. "But kindergarten is up and that's a little curious," Spence said.

Shirlean Cobb, principal of Kenly Elementary School near Brandon, noticed more kindergarten students, contributing to a slight increase in her student population, now 511.

"Our boundaries have not changed," Cobb said through an email. "However, younger families are moving into the apartments that are new across Highway 301 and the Sabal Park area."

Though Spence cautioned that the numbers are just a snapshot, some showed sharp changes.

Enrollment rose at Lennard High School (with 181 more students), Blake High School (136), Barrington Middle School (103) Farnell Middle School (81) and Hammond Elementary School (66).

Enrollment dropped at Davidsen Middle School (which lost 100 students), Tinker Elementary School (94), Rodgers Middle School (93), Stewart Middle School (77) and Cannella Elementary School (77).

Dover Elementary School had 643 students. But that number won't hold up for long, said principal Marie Caracciola.

"Dover has the highest migrant count in the Hillsborough County schools," she said.

"We continue to grow throughout the fall. Last year we peaked at 933 students."

Marlene Sokol can be reached at sokol@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3356.

Hillsborough enrollment is slightly higher but fluctuates seasonally 10/06/12 [Last modified: Saturday, October 6, 2012 4:31am]
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