Butler County school district moves up to 8th largest in Ohio

There are more than 600 school districts in the state.

Butler County’s largest school system is getting bigger.

The now 17,664-student Lakota Schools is again climbing the ranks of Ohio’s most populous districts and with the recent start of the new school year has gone from the state’s ninth largest to the eighth among 611 public school systems.

Lakota officials announced this year’s student count is exactly 300 students higher than last year - and growing as additional students complete the enrollment process during the first weeks of the just-started school year.

Enrollment continues to exceed projections and is up just more than 1,000 students compared to five years ago, they said.

That growth happens in part, said district officials, when the two feeder townships — West Chester and Liberty — are among the largest and fastest growing in the region.

“Lakota’s enrollment continues to grow … we are now the eighth largest district in Ohio and we’ve already surpassed our 2019 enrollment (projection) study,” said Betsy Fuller, spokeswoman for Lakota, which is also southwest Ohio’s second largest school system after Cincinnati Public Schools.

“This goes to show what wonderful communities both West Chester and Liberty townships are, and Lakota is proud to be a part of that growth. This is certainly also a testament to our staff and the excellent and personalized education they provide,” Fuller said.

Including Lakota, four of Ohio’s top 20 districts’ enrollments are in the Butler County and southern Warren County area with Mason at more than 10,000, Fairfield at 9,600 and Hamilton at 9,500 students.

Lakota also has two of Ohio’s largest student enrollments at its two high schools — Lakota West and Lakota East. The district is the only public school system in Butler and Warren counties with two high school buildings.

Butler County also has the Butler Tech career school system, which serves the county’s 10 public school districts plus Northwest Schools in northern Hamilton County and is one of the state’s largest such districts.

In a welcoming announcement to students returning to Lakota’s 23 school buildings for the start last month of the 2023-2024 school year, Interim Superintendent Elizabeth Lolli said she had visited all the district’s schools.

“Nothing excites me more than having students back in our schools and our classrooms after summer break,” said Lolli, who was hired away during the summer from her superintendent’s position with the Dayton Public School system.

“It was extra special for me to have the chance to meet so many of our teachers and support staff for the first time. Their energy and enthusiasm was contagious,” she said.

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