Enrollment in Columbia Public Schools has increased by 294 students since last year.
Columbia Public Schools released preliminary enrollment numbers on Tuesday, which was the first day of the new school year. Total enrollment for all schools was 18,585, according to a news release from Columbia Public Schools spokeswoman Michelle Baumstark.
Beulah Ralph Elementary School saw an increase of 90 students from last year. Baumstark said that is due to “significant growth” in south Columbia and that it won't be a problem because the school, which opened last year, was built with room to grow.
Gentry Middle School had 52 more students than it did on the first day of the 2016-17 school year. Baumstark said that there were almost 40 Gentry students absent Tuesday and that the school district will work to verify their enrollment. This means figuring out whether students have moved or otherwise left the system.
"We're working to determine if those students who were absent today will continue to be enrolled at the school or if they have moved to other schools," Baumstark said.
A new middle school in south Columbia is scheduled to open in August 2020. It is meant to reduce crowding at Gentry.
Official enrollment numbers will not be compiled until the last Wednesday in September, as required by the state.
“I want to emphasize that these are first-day numbers,” Baumstark said.