Despite the increased traffic, the shortage of housing, the packed restaurants throughout Lea County, only the Hobbs Municipal Schools is showing a significant increase in school population.
On the last day of the 2018-19 school year, Hobbs’ total enrollment was 10,341. On the fifth day of school this school year, the enrollment was 10,615 according to the Hobbs Municipal Schools enrollment data.
The data also shows Highland Middle School is inching closer to reaching 1,000 students. As of Tuesday, the school is at 962 students.
Highland is outdistancing the other middle schools Houston (931 students) and Heizer 683. Highland is the only middle school with more than 300 students in each of its classes — 312 in sixth grade, 346 in seventh grade and 304 in eighth grade.
The seventh grade is the largest class within Hobbs Municipal Schools with 894 students. Second is sixth grade at 872 and third is fifth grade at 852 students.
College Lane stands as Hobbs’ largest elementary with 516 students. No other elementary tops 500 students. The closest is Murray at 483 and Stone and Southern Heights at a tie with 432 students.
Hobbs High School, which only measures 10th-12th grade, stands at 1,987 students.
Hobbs superintendent TJ Parks said about 12 years ago school district officials set up a chart giving the high and low projections in future school enrollment.
“We are little over 300 students than at the same time last year,” Parks said on Tuesday, “and we are exceeding the highest projection our charts have shown us to this point.”
According to statistics provided in August 2018, HMS officials said Highland’s maximum capacity is 734 students. Comparing Tuesday’s enrollments and last year’s maximum capacity statistics, 11 of 19 schools are over capacity. Those schools are College Lane, Coronado, Jefferson, Stone, Sanger, Taylor and Will Rogers elementaries, Highland and Houston middle schools, the freshman school and Hobbs High.
With so many schools over capacity, Parks said discussions within the school district must take place in terms of the usage of portable buildings on campuses to supplement the overcrowding of schools.
Of the four other Lea County school districts, Lovington is the only one to show an enrollment decrease.
The school population in Lea County’s second-largest school district is down about 87 students from the end of last school year. Loving-ton’s total enrollment as of Tuesday was 3,649 compared with the end of school population of 3,736 in May.
Part of the loss is attributable to a lower kindergarten enrollment, which was about 275 last year and is now 243. At the other end of the academic ladder, Lovington High School’s enrollment, which was 605 last year, now stands at 657. The high school serves students in grades 10-12. Freshman school enrollment, which is counted separately from the senior high school is at 311.
Secretary to the counselors at Lovington High School, Alma Cabello, said new students are registering every day.
“We registered one freshman, one sophomore and two seniors just today,” Cabello said. “And it’s been that way every day since school started.”
Eunice superintendent Dwain Haynes said his district was “about where we were last year on total enrollment, but the middle school enrollment is larger than it has been for several years.
“We have 225 kids at the middle school and we usually have about 180,” Haynes said. “The kindergarten is smaller than usual, but we are happy to have everyone who is here.”
Jal school officials believe enrollment at the elementary level is up around 25 students to 284 students than at the end of last school year. In addition, there are 42 pre-schoolers, ages 3-4. At the high school, 146 students were enrolled; at the middle school 130 and at the elementary school, 284 for a total of 560.
In Tatum, superintendent of schools Buddy Little said the enrollment in the district is up about 24.
“We had 334 enrolled on the 40th day of school last year,” Little said. “On the fifth day this year, we’ve got 358. The increase in the number of students is spread pretty evenly across the district. We’re staffed just about how we need to be and we’re looking forward to a great year.”