For only the second time in the last 15 years, enrollment in Petersburg schools next fall should be up from the previous year.

With the exception of the 2003-2004 school year, the three local schools have seen a combined decline in student numbers every year since enrollment peaked in 1998. School superintendent Rob Thomason expects at least for next year the trend will not continue. “We have a slight increase, kindergarten is going up,” Thomason says. “And part of that increase is because we have a class of 26 graduating out, a new senior class coming up that’ll have 41 in it, and then our kindergarten class, it’ll have 39 in it, going up from what was last year 26,” he notes.

Petersburg’s three schools had a combined 426 students last year and administrators expect that will be up to 439 kids for the upcoming year, about a three percent increase. Thomason cautions that it may just be a one-year increase and doesn’t have accurate numbers of three and four year olds entering kindergarten two and three years from now. However he’s happy not to see another year of falling numbers.

“Last year was a major decline of 12 point 35 percent,” Thomason says. “So to be going up three percent is a movement in the right direction in terms of the stability of the program at the school district.” Student numbers impact state funding levels and fewer students can mean reductions to school programs and staff.

In other school news, renovation work continues this summer on the high school library. Workers are putting in new bookshelves, carpeting and décor to the library space in time for next school year.The school district has budgeted 60-thousand dollars for that work. Joe Viechnicki spoke with Thomason about the library overhaul.

For iFriendly audio, click here: