DENHAM SPRINGS — More students than expected showed up for the first day of school in Livingston Parish, but there were no major hiccups, officials said Friday.
School system officials had expected about a 300-student increase over last year’s first-day numbers, but said Friday the numbers were up by approximately 450 students.
Even with the extra students, the first day of classes went “very smoothly,” said Assistant Superintendent Thomas Cothern.
The total number of students in the school system as of Friday was about 25,100, but that number will fluctuate, he said.
Some students who are enrolled have likely transferred out without informing the school system, he said.
Not all of the students started Friday. Kindergarten and pre-kindergarten students will start next week, though they are counted in the 25,100 total, he said.
At Southside Elementary in Denham Springs, buses were lined up waiting to drop off children at 7:10 a.m.
They were greeted there by Principal Laura Williams and her staff, who affixed round, color-coded stickers to all children who debarked so they would get on the right buses to go home, she said.
“Today’s more of a get-to-know everything day,” Williams said. “We want to get them in school, feed them and get them home.”
Williams said she expects about 470 students, including kindergarten and pre-kindergarten enrollees.
Class sizes at the school have not been too affected by staffing formula calculations for this year, which slightly increased student-teacher ratios.
This year’s formula is similar to that used in 2006, when the school system cut the budget, Superintendent Bill Spear has said.
Alysha Kent, who teaches third grade at the school, has 18 students in her homeroom, she said.
Kent team-teaches with another teacher, who has only 17, she said.
“I am extremely excited about the year,” Kent said.
Melissa Doughtery, who is in her first year as principal at Gray’s Creek Elementary south of Denham Springs, said things had gone well on the first day.
Doughtery said about 480 kids are enrolled at the school
Both principals said they were monitoring the heat, and would make decisions about whether to allow students outside on a case-by-case basis.
Faculty morale was high at both schools, despite the School Board’s decision to cut annual pay increases, known as step raises, and shorten the work year by three days, both principals said.
“The teachers told me ‘We’re good, we’re happy with it,’ ” Doughtery said. “So morale is good.”
The School Board has closed a $10 million budget shortfall for this year, but doesn’t expect to have to lay off teachers, officials have said.