Monday is the first day of school for Highland District 5, and the population is predicted to be slightly higher than last year.
Superintendent Mike Sutton said while the enrollment is not firm until the sixth day of classes, it’s expected the numbers will be a small increase over the previous year for the second year in a row. That’s a turnabout for Highland, which has seen enrollment decreases for the prior eight years.
“Overall, we’re down about 200 students over 10 years,” Sutton said.
But now the trend seems to be turning, he said.
District 5 has been hiring “up to the minute,” Sutton said, but not necessarily because of an enrollment increase. There were a number of retirements and departures, and the district is “in dire need” of substitute teachers, bus drivers and cafeteria workers.
“There are lots of job opportunities,” Sutton said.
Over the summer, a number of renovation projects have taken place. The elementary auditorium was completely renovated with fresh paint, and Sutton said the district will seek bids for new light and sound boards. That building is a former high school and the auditorium is used by the entire district, he said. Other projects included roofing and parking lot resurfacing at several locations.
Meanwhile, district leaders have recently completed a new strategic plan for the district, identifying goals over the next three to five years. Among those strategies will be attracting and retaining quality staff, facilities improvements, curriculum improvements, technology enhancement and community engagement, among others.
The plan is not yet available, as it will be presented to the school board at its August board meeting, Sutton said.
The district also is in negotiations with the custodial maintenance association, which is the only one up for renewal this year, Sutton said.
Anyone interested in applying for part-time or full-time jobs at the district should look on highlandcusd5.org or apply at the main office at 400 Broadway in Highland.
Teachers report for in-service Monday and classes begin for students Wednesday.