NORTH FULTON, Ga. – Schools across Fulton County are still waiting for a surge in students after Labor Day, with enrollment after the first two weeks coming in at 1,430 students below projected numbers.
Fulton School officials say the numbers tend to rise after the first holiday of the school year when students from other parts of the country accustomed to later start dates come into Fulton Schools.
While this trend is most often seen in South Fulton schools, increased numbers after the first two weeks occurs system-wide.
“Looking at the 10-day report, we are under what we projected but that’s not uncommon,” said Susan Hale, Fulton Schools’ spokesperson. “We traditionally experience a surge in enrollment after Labor Day.”
School planners had projected 96,676 students for the 2017-18 school year; the 10-day count came in at 95,246. That total retains Fulton School System as the state’s fourth largest, behind Gwinnett, Cobb and DeKalb.
The lower student numbers were seen across the system and through all grade levels, including high schools in North Fulton where parents had feared the projections were way too low.
Most area high schools came in below or near projected numbers, which could be an issue if the post-Labor Day surge occurs.
As anticipated, elementary numbers in North Fulton continue to fall – a combination of lower birth rates and housing prices moving beyond the reach of young families. In the 30 elementary schools in North Fulton, actual enrollment was 165 students below projections, with wide swings seen throughout the area.
At Vickery Mills Elementary in Roswell, two-week enrollment was 76 students below projections; at Lake Windward the numbers came in 44 students above forecast.
At the 12 area middle schools, enrollment was 165 students below projections, with only Taylor Road Middle seeing significantly more students than expected with 24 over forecast.
The area’s newest school, FAST Charter School continues to thrive with full enrollment in all grades from kindergarten through 8th, in only its second year.
Hale said the school year began with 100 teacher vacancies across the system, primarily in the hard-to-staff areas of STEM and Special Education. But lower student enrollment may mitigate some of those openings as the system continues to fill vacancies.
“We are still working through the 10-day count to determine where we need to adjust our staffing,” said Hale. “We will know later how our vacancy counts are affected.”
Fulton Schools hired nearly 800 new teachers for 2017-2018, bringing the total teaching force to about 6,800.