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District Sets New Enrollment Mark with More Than 7,000 Students

                Only days after the start of the 2021-2022 school year, enrollment numbers in Cleburne ISD have set a new district record in surpassing the 7,000 mark.

                “We knew we were close to 7,000 on the third day of school when we were 22 away from reaching that figure,” Superintendent Dr. Kyle Heath said. “On the fourth day, we officially set a new enrollment record of 7,046 students and that number has continued to climb. As of last Friday, we’re at 7077. This puts us close to 300 more students than this same time a year ago, which matches up to growth predictions we received from Templeton Demographics in the spring. Our school district has been experiencing small but steady growth over the past few years, but with houses going up all around the community, we believed we would experience a sizeable jump in student enrollment—and we have.”

                “The predictions given to us by the demographer indicated we could ultimately have 370 more students this year,” Heath said. “An additional 250 are predicted for 2022-23, with enrollment numbers continuing to trend upward. The five year forecast for our district shows an enrollment of 7,900 students, with close to 9,000 predicted by 2031.”

                According to Tammy Bright, assistant superintendent of Student Services, while growth is across the board, it is very apparent in the beginning grades.

                “We don’t have growth in one particular grade level or area,” Bright said. “But where you can see some definite expansion in numbers from previous years is in Pre-Kindergarten, where we have added one classroom section, and in first grade. It’s always exciting to welcome early learners to their first steps in education, so we are thrilled with what we are seeing.”

                “I admit when the demographer talked about the possibility of having as many as 7,100 students this year, I thought there was no way,” she said. “The way our enrollment is trending I think we will definitely hit that figure.”

Voter approval of Proposition A in the District’s May bond election will allow for the predicted growth in CISD while also giving the district, working with community members, time to determine future steps. With the passage of the bond referendum, new grade configurations will go into effect with the 2023-2024 school year, beginning at the elementary level, with campuses serving grades Pre-K through four. Smith Middle School will open as a 5th-6th grade intermediate school, with Wheat Middle School returning to its original use as a 7th-8th grade campus.

“We know that Gerard, Marti, Cooke and Coleman are schools we need to look at due to their enrollment numbers,” Heath said. “By taking the fifth grade off all our elementary campuses, there will be room for expanded growth.”

Major renovations and new construction for Wheat Middle School, a leading project approved in Bond 2021, will soon be underway with groundbreaking planned in November. Upon completion, preceding the start of the 2023-24 school year, the campus will be able to serve an expanded capacity of 1,400 students. Minor renovations are also scheduled for the Smith campus, for completion by 2023-24, to include a new student capacity of 1,400.

                The new Cleburne High School, which opened in January of 2019, was built for a capacity of 2,500 students, with available on-site space for future expansion.  

When the district, working with community members, decides it’s time to address growth, one site will be available. In January of 2020, Trustees approved the purchase of 23 acres in west Cleburne for a future school site.  The acreage is located within the Belle Meadows addition and the Gerard and Smith attendance zones--and in one of the fastest-growing areas of Cleburne.

                Bright says the district will continue to closely monitor enrollment numbers, which always fluctuate in the first days of a new school year. Once it gets past Labor Day, enrollment numbers should stabilize.

                “We are still balancing classrooms, which is what we always do in the first few days of school,” Bright said. “We believe we will continue to enroll students this week—it’s usually after Labor Day when things settle down. It’s been an especially busy start for us this year—and it’s wonderful to have this many students engaged in learning.”