Kailyn Arrieta and Mia Murphy at Harper meet in Sarah Smith's kindergarten class.
Nearly 900 new students have enrolled in Princeton ISD schools since the first day of school last year. To help make room for this increase, Buddy and Marilyn Mattei Middle School opened its doors for the first time with 589 students.
There were 8,155 students who started classes across the district, which is an increase of 886 students over the first day of 2022. In 2022, there were 3,678 elementary students on the first day of school compared to 4,070 this year, which is an increase of 392 students.
“Opening Mattei this year only slightly stayed ahead of our growth, because there are still 780 students at Southard, but at least we are currently out of the portables on that campus,” Superintendent Donald McIntyre said. “That’s why we have three additional construction projects underway right now.”
All student populations are experiencing similar growth.
The PHS population went from 1,421 on the first day of 2022 to 1,661 this year. The freshman class at Lovelady hit 595 9th-graders enrolled Thursday morning, compared to 535 in 2022. Both high school campuses combined represent a total of 2,256 high schoolers.
For the middle school level, there were 1,829 students who reported on the first day this year, which is up 194 students from 1,635 who reported on the first day in 2022.
“Thanks to the continued support of our community, we can open the Lovelady expansion next year, which will help overcrowding at PHS by moving an entire grade level into the new wing at Lovelady,” Mr. McIntyre said. “We have no empty classrooms at PHS, and we are close to 100 percent capacity at all campuses.”
In terms of total numbers, the 2nd-grade class has the largest enrollment for the first day this year with 640 reporting Thursday. The smallest class is the 12th grade at an enrollment of 490. Aside from the Class of 2024, every grade level except 8th, 10th and 11th, has reported enrollments of more than 600, and kindergarten and 2nd-grade levels are nearing 700 students each.
To further assist with growth management, both Green and James will open in 2024 to provide overcrowding relief for the elementary schools, but with the current population projections, more is needed.
In addition to the new wing at Lovelady and the construction of Green and James elementary schools, the district’s second early childhood center will be ready in 2025.
As has become the norm, growth doesn’t end after the first month of school. District officials still anticipate the addition of new students throughout the school year.
"In the past, it was common for student enrollment to continue a steady growth through Labor Day, and then slow down," Mr. McIntyre said. “It is pretty evident with the housing construction across the district, we no longer see a decrease in new enrollments during the school year.”