Limestone County Schools reached its highest first-day enrollment last week with just over 10,000, and the superintendent expects the number of students in the district to exceed 11,000 this year.

“We opened with 10,048 on day one,” Aug. 5, said Superintendent Tom Sisk. That number is projected to increase as students, including those choosing a virtual education option, continue to enroll.

“Our virtual school is exploding,” Sisk said. “There are 800 kids in the pipeline to be enrolled right now.”

That program, first offered in fall 2016, allows high school students to complete all or part of their coursework online, requiring classroom time with teachers for assessments. Once a student applies, a committee decides if the virtual school environment is the best option for the student.

The Limestone district ended the 2018-2019 school year with 10,751 students, according to Sisk. “We will go over 11,000 this year.”

Sisk said when he came to Limestone County in 2012, the enrollment was about 9,700.

“We’re handling” the growth, he said. “We have some contingency plans, but I don’t want to disclose those yet” before taking the proposals to the Limestone County Board of Education.

East Limestone High Principal Louis Berry said the number of students enrolled there so far is 1,224, one less than at the end of last school year.

The school has grades six through 12.

“There’s a lot of building going on in this area,” Berry said. “We do expect that (enrollment) number to increase dramatically.”

The Limestone County Commission has approved, since August 2018, 311 subdivision lots, and 32 more lots are on the commission’s agenda for approval Friday, said Commission Chairman Collin Daly.

The Athens school district’s classes resumed on Tuesday.

Athens school officials declined to release enrollment figures until Friday, saying the count right now wouldn’t be a true reflection of actual enrollment.

Enrollment was 4,295 as of Aug. 2, compared to 4,135 at the end of the previous school year, Beth Patton, the assistant superintendent of administration and instruction, said earlier this month.

A significant change for the Athens system this school year is relocating the iAcademy at Athens Elementary, a pre-K through third grade computer science academy, to a building at the former middle school campus on Clinton Street for at least two years. Plans are to tear down the existing elementary building on North Madison Street and build a new school, with a capacity of about 600 students.

marian.accardi@decaturdaily.com or 256-340-2438. Twitter @DD_MAccardi.

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