Continued growth spurts Indian River’s enrollment past 10,000

14 IRSD Enrollment schs

Increased student enrollment at Sussex Central High School has contributed greatly to the Indian River School District’ surpassing the 10,000 enrollment mark.

SELBYVILLE – It is official: Indian River School District’s enrollment has reached five digits.

On Sept. 30 – the day that matters most in Delaware education for enrollment – Indian River’s district-wide tally was 10,171.

That’s an increase of 329 students from the 9,843 on Sept. 30, 2014.

“We thought we would be pretty close to 10,200,” said Indian River School District Assistant Superintendent Mark Steele. “At one time (earlier than Sept. 30) we were at that number. With kids and families moving in and out, we settled in at 10,171.”

The enrollment increase mirrors that in recent years.

“We have been growing for about the last seven years at a very high rate. I’m talking 3 to 4 percent increase per year. This one is a little bit higher,” said Mr. Steele.

Based on the Sept. 30 count, Sussex Central High School experienced the largest increase of more than 100 students from a year ago.

“We saw a lot of growth up in that area. As a matter of fact most of our growth is in the northern end of the district,” said Mr. Steele.

In the 2013-14 year, Indian River experienced an unanticipated arrival of some 70 Hispanic/Latino students. Most were high school age non-English speaking students who enrolled at Sussex Central High School.

“This year when we took a look at it, we’ve had our share of Hispanic kids come in but we’ve a share of other ethnicities,” said Mr. Steele. “It’s more balanced this year than what it was last year.”

Indian River’s reward for increased enrollment: 22 additional teaching units, funded at a 70/30 state/local ratio.

“Some would be teachers, some would be paraprofessionals,” said Mr. Steele. “This (Sept. 30 enrollment) number also increased our related service units: such as school psychologists, counselors and social workers.”

To address increased enrollment, the district is in the midst of a two-phased expansion.

Phase I included additional classrooms at East Millsboro Elementary, North Georgetown Elementary and Long Neck Elementary.

“Those are our three biggest elementary schools. We have been to accommodate the growth this year,” said Mr. Steele. “Where we are a little tight right now but expect to get a little relief is at Georgetown Elementary. Phase II, which is in motion now, should be completed in late spring, early summer (2016). That will give us an additional eight classrooms in that building.”

Overall, Indian River welcomes the growing pains.

“It’s not a bad issue. It’s definitely a good issue. We are able to employ more people. We are able to have job security. With more kids and more money coming into the district you are able to offer more avenues, more courses and things,” said Mr. Steele. “The district realizes that at this rate of growth they need to start looking and come up with ideas and involving the community to come up ideas. And I think we are at that stage where we will begin that process probably this year.”

News Editor Glenn Rolfe can be reached at

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