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‘Yes, We Did’ Superintendent cites district enrollment of 2,584 students as school year begins

By Bill Short

As the 2014-15 academic year began on Monday, at least 2,584 students had enrolled in the four schools of the Millington Municipal School District.
Dr. David Roper, superintendent of the municipal school system, said that was the total as of 10 a.m. Monday. And he noted that, during the day, “more were added” to that.
He said that is already “significantly” greater than the number of students who enrolled during the July 29 registration.
“In analyzing these numbers, our planner is now projecting in the neighborhood of 2,750 students on the 20th day of enrollment,” he said. “We’re very pleased with that.”
Roper made the comments Monday night during his report to the Millington School Board at its regular monthly meeting. He said he told the Central Office staff in a meeting Monday afternoon that his report could consist of three words: “Yes, we did.”
The superintendent recalled that, during the process of preparing the school system’s budget, the administration was “staffing conservatively” because of conservative estimates for enrollment. But based on the latest numbers, he said several more staff members will now be employed.
“We know of at least three and possibly more teaching units that we’ll be adding,” he noted. “We’d much rather be doing that than having hired too many folks at the outset.”
At this point, Roper said, one teacher will be added at Millington Elementary School and two at Millington Middle School. Calling it a “fluid situation” right now, he said he will keep the board “apprised” as that goes forward.
Roper also said that, based on “workload neSuperintendent first day Ropereds,” two Central Office positions will be added – an accounting assistant and a technology support specialist.
When Board Chairman Greg Ritter asked how the two positions will be paid for, the superintendent said money will be “shifted” from the funds originally appropriated for School Resource Officers. He noted that the SROs will be provided by the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office.
In response to another question by Ritter, Roper said the Central Office currently has 12 full-time and two part-time employees. He noted that the two new positions will be full-time at approximately the salary of an administrative assistant.
“I can’t even begin to describe how hard our staff has worked during the past weeks to get ready for this day,” Roper said. “But, especially in the financial and the technology offices, the workload clearly is such that, if we are going to be efficient in what we do, these positions are warranted.”
Board member Louise Kennon said she has telephoned as late as 9:30 p.m. to talk with a staff member who was still working in the Central Office. So, she feels “very strongly” that the two additional positions are needed.
“Right now, I don’t think you’d find a better group anywhere in the United States,” she said. “And for this reason, if Dr. Roper says we need them, I believe he’s right.”
While agreeing with Kennon “to a point,” Ritter said he believes the board originally had an idea of the total number of employees a Central Office would need for a district with four schools.
“At some point in time,” he said, “I’d like to know when we reach the number. Every dollar that we take out of our budget and put in the Central Office is a dollar that we don’t have for instruction in the classroom.”
Because of the number of students enrolled, Roper said the administration is “grappling” with some “issues.” While acknowledging that there were a few transportation “glitches” during the day, he said they are being addressed.
But Roper said the “routing folks” told him Monday morning that Millington was a “bright spot,” compared to the “difficulties” that some of the other municipal school districts were experiencing.
Because some classrooms have “significantly more” students than others, Roper said the administration will have to do some “class-size leveling.”
“We’re still having to field some transfer requests that are continuing to come in,” he noted. “And we’re still having to look at situations regarding Alternative School program placements.”
He called these the kinds of things that the administration knew it would be addressing at the beginning of the school year. But he said the staff is doing “an excellent job in working through” those issues.
The superintendent announced that, from 10 a.m. to noon on Aug. 23, a “celebration” of the new school system will be conducted in the Millington Central High School Cafeteria. Although the details about the “specific agenda” will be released soon, he said everyone in the community is “welcome” to attend the event.
Ritter said his boys had a “good” day at school Monday, and his daughter had a “great” day. He noted that she is “excited,” because her teachers are all new to the Millington school system.
While acknowledging that there were some “hiccups” on Monday in some of the schools, Ritter asked the residents to “bear with” the school board.
“It was a historic day,” he concluded. “It was a great day, and we’re looking forward to greater things in Millington.”

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