Lakota Schools still growing, superintendent says

Increase over past five years is more than 1,100 students.

Southwest Ohio’s largest suburban district is growing faster than expected, according to its leader Monday evening.

Lakota Schools, which covers two townships and is Butler County’s most populous district, has added 247 more students compared to last year at this time bringing its total enrollment to 17,364.

In recent weeks Lakota officials had been projecting their enrollment for the just-started school year to top out around 17,200.

Matt Miller, superintendent of Lakota Schools, told the Lakota Board of Education during its Monday evening work session that a half decade ago, the district’s enrollment was 16,203.

There are multiple reasons for the growth, said Miller and some board members, all of them good reflections on the relative state of Ohio’s ninth largest public school system.

“That’s an increase of 1,161 in five-year period which says people are coming to Lakota for all the right reasons,” said Miller.

With the growth includes some problems, he said, citing a “a massive need for school bus drivers.”

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Also, the enrollment in the 10th grade district-wide is more than anticipated for this new school year and “we had to add some teachers late.”

Miller also cited Lakota’s tenth-consecutive year of having a balanced budget as an attraction to school families and he added “we are not forecasting (seeking) an operating (tax) levy in the near future.”

And enrollments for special education classes are also higher than normal.

Miller told the board that is in part due to the district’s growing reputation of providing quality learning for students with special needs.

He also cited “achievement of our kids at all ability levels.”

“It’s all connected and that is why enrollment keeps going up.”

School Board President Lynda O’Connor said “our administrators have done a terrific job with getting the schools ready” for the 2022-2023 school year.

Fellow board member Kelley Casper said during her visits to 16 schools during the opening days last week, many mentioned to her their appreciation of Lakota’s staggered schedule start in helping them ease into the new school year.

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Under the opening of classes process, the first two days of school are attended by only half the student enrollment in each building, a system developed in recent years as a safety precaution during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The kids love the staggered start and teachers love the staggered start,” said Casper.

In other board action, the members started the meeting in a relatively lengthy, private executive session – lasting about one hour – before adjourning back into the regularly scheduled work session.

Both board sessions included member Darbi Boddy participating via a digital link as she was out of state attending a family funeral and unable to attend in person.

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