Student numbers in the Hobbs Municipal Schools are headed in a positive direction with day-one enrollment topping 10,000 students for the first time in three years, administrators said.
Gene Strickland, HMS superintendent, told the Board of Education that enrollment is indicating a potential return to pre-pandemic numbers during its regular meeting on Tuesday.
HMS, for example, started the 2019-2020 school year — the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic — with 10,660 students, according to district records presented at the meeting.
And, as of Tuesday’s meeting, the district saw 10,007 students pass through the doors of district campuses, Strickland said. That’s something of a turnaround from November 2020, when LaShawn Byrd, deputy director for data analysis for the district, told the board about declining student numbers.
Not surprisingly, Hobbs High School has the greatest number of students enrolled with 2,156 as of Tuesday. The Freshman High School showed enrollment of 781 students, while the district’s three middle schools — Highland, Houston and Heizer — reported enrollment of 850, 842 and 609 students, respectively.
College Lane Elementary reported the greatest enrollment at the elementary level with 456 students, while Booker T. Washington had the fewest number of students at 150 across the six elementary grades.
While tracking daily enrollment is important and is something Hobbs Schools traditionally does, it’s the 40th day enrollment numbers the New Mexico Public Education Department uses in its calculations of state funding dollars. While HMS will actually hit its 40th day on Oct. 3, Strickland said, NMPED will calculate state funding this year based on the Oct. 12 enrollment count.
Strickland also told the board, “We’re staffed at the same levels we were with 10,600 kids. We were looking at elementary class sizes just before the meeting, so we have some conversations to have about first-grade classrooms.
“Hiring or advertising for instructional assistants in those spaces. That’s on the heels of some decisions we’ve made for those spaces also based on numbers.”
In other business, the board:
• Recognized four students who completed their educations over the summer, presenting diplomas to Kaleb Miller, Marissa Rodriguez, Raven Torres and Alan Trevizo. Only Miller and Torres, accompanied by their families, were present at the meeting;
• Recognized School Nutrition Director Sonya Moore for being named New Mexico School Nutrition Association Director of the Year;
• Heard a report on the district’s Training Institutes, held before the start of the school year;
• Heard a report from Doug Young, assistant superintendent for human relations on ongoing staffing. The district is still searching to fill 25 positions, Young said. The district hired 75 new certified employees, he said, with 64 of those teachers. The district also hired 35 new classified employees — custodians, nutrition services and other ancillary positions — he said;
• Set a meeting for Sept. 20, prior to the regular board meeting, to begin discussions on redistricting of precincts for elected positions based on recently-released Census numbers;
• Approved a draft resolution calling on the state legislature and Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham to “fully fund the New Mexico Public Education Department to provide all fees and costs associated with educators obtaining all relevant credentials required by NMPED and New Mexico State Statute.”