School // 2011 // 2012 // Change
Bledsoe County High School // 569 // 588 // +19
Bledsoe County Middle School // 450 // 450 // 0
Pikeville Elementary School // 403 // 432 // +29
Mary V. Wheeler Elementary School // 222 // 231 // +9
Cicil B. Rigsby Elementary // 228 // 231 // +3
Source: Bledsoe County Schools
The Bledsoe County Schools system has its highest number of students ever at 1,932, a jump of about 60 systemwide over last year, officials said Wednesday.
And that doesn't include the nearly 100 preschool students enrolled at the county's three elementary schools, according to Bledsoe County Schools attendance supervisor Jack Roberson.
But the growth is putting pressure on some facilities, Roberson said.
"Some of the classrooms are not overloaded, but they're real close to maxing out," he said.
Pikeville Elementary School, the newest in the system, had the biggest increase at 29 students, a number that's still manageable, Principal James Ellis said.
"When we moved to this building eight or nine years ago, we had about four classrooms per grade," he said. "We're not quite back to that, but we're close."
School board members and county commissioners continue to discuss ideas for adding a vocational wing to the high school, but the poor economy is standing in the way, he said.
Enrollment in vocational classes swelled by 30 students over last year, he said, though that figure has no impact on overall enrollment numbers.
Vocational students now are bused 16 miles round-trip from the school in Pikeville to Chattanooga State Community College's Sequatchie-Bledsoe site for vocational classes.
Roberson said a vocational wing at the high school could trim bus fuel costs, but that's a project for later unless officials come up with a way to fund it.
Ellis and Roberson said there seemed to be more students of migrant families this year than last, which might reflect a farming rebound after the tornado outbreak on April 27, 2011.
Both men said enrollment could swell dramatically with the 2013 opening of the Bledsoe County Correctional Complex.
State officials say the new state prison could produce up to 400 jobs.
Ben Benton is a news reporter at the Chattanooga Times Free Press. He covers Southeast Tennessee and previously covered North Georgia education. Ben has worked at the Times Free Press since November 2005, first covering Bledsoe and Sequatchie counties and later adding Marion, Grundy and other counties in the northern and western edges of the region to his coverage. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Tenn., a graduate of Bradley Central High School. Benton ...