HOLLAND — Wednesday’s first Count Day of the year brought mostly positive news for local school districts. Several reported increased enrollments from last year, and those with declines still met or exceeded projected student counts.
West Ottawa Public Schools had 6,564 students in the fall count. This is above the 6,541 used in budgeting and more than last fall’s count of 6,556.
“We are encouraged and cautiously optimistic by today’s count number,” said Superintendent Tim Bearden. “There are many factors that go into enrollment, but we are encouraged that our efforts and Strategic Plan initiatives have positioned our district as a place families continue to choose for their children.
“We are committed to West Ottawa being the best place in West Michigan to live, work and learn. Our entire team has worked to serve our community and will continue to work to give our students the best possible experience.”
Enrollment was up in the preliminary count at Zeeland Public Schools, as well. The district reported 6,167 students, up from 6,083 last fall and 6,058 in the spring.
"Enrollment remains strong as a result of Zeeland Public Schools' students, academic programs, staff, facilities and technology, which make it an outstanding and desirable district,” said ZPS Superintendent Brandi-Lyn Mendham. “We are grateful for our students, staff, families and the community for their partnership in the success of ZPS, where every child is safe, valued, loved and learning."
Holland Public Schools had a preliminary count under last year’s enrollment, but above projections used for this year’s budget. The district counted 2,873 students Wednesday, more than 100 higher than the 2,744 used in the budget. Last year, HPS had 2,908 students.
“Today’s count numbers show HPS is outpacing projections of enrollment decline,” said HPS Superintendent Nick Cassidy. “While enrollment dropped from last year, it only dropped slightly — and significantly less than the projected figures for 2022 — despite the affordable housing crisis in the city of Holland.
"Today’s preliminary numbers show that families in the city of Holland support the great things that are happening in our classrooms and recognize the educational opportunities being provided for students.”
There were 2,497 students at Hamilton Community Schools on Count Day, up from 2,381 in the spring count and 2,350 last fall.
“With our increase in enrollment, we are excited to see many returning and new faces in our classrooms,” said Superintendent Brad Lusk. “Our goal has been and continues to be providing the best educational experience for our students, while using our #EachWillThrive message as our guide.”
Black River Public School saw an increase from last spring’s enrollment. The charter school counted 943 students Wednesday, up from 896 in the spring. Head of School Shannon Brunink called the enrollment bump a “great start to the year.”
Saugatuck Public Schools counted 810 students Wednesday, which is the exact number used in the district’s budget. The district counted 839 students in February, which included the school’s largest graduating class ever of 88 students.
The preliminary count at Fennville Public Schools was 1,292, higher than the February count of 1,289, but slightly below last fall’s 1,299. The district built a budget based on a count of 1,274.
“One of the challenges facing families in our area that also affects student enrollment is the lack of affordable and available housing,” said FPS Superintendent Jim Greydanus. “When existing homes are purchased for vacation properties, there are fewer housing options for families. Rising property values have pushed home prices above what many young families with school-aged children can afford.”
This article originally appeared on The Holland Sentinel: Count Day brings good news for several Holland-area school districts