NORFOLK — The Norfolk Public Schools District is growing.
That’s the verdict from the 2016-17 Annual Report revealed by the school board last month. NPS is at an all-time high of 4,322 students, and while Superintendent Dr. Jami Jo Thompson views size as a positive, she says the increasing enrollment is forcing the district to hire more staff.
“Class sizes are important when it comes to teachers being able to provide individualized attention to students. (We want them) building good, positive relationships so that students feel comfortable and are more likely to learn at high levels.”
The School Board unanimously approved its goal to hire more staff members at its January 25th meeting.
But the District is facing other kinds of growth too, including the number of students participating in the free/reduced lunch program. 51 percent of NPS students participate in the program offered to kids from low-income families. Thompson says that number has been consistent recently but is dramatically higher than a decade ago. The District started offering breakfast at all schools to help address the issue.
“We know that when you have more free and reduced students you are more likely to have students coming to school hungry. You don’t learn as well when you’re hungry because you’re thinking about your stomach rather than the content before you.”
NPS has also seen growth in test scores. The annual report indicates NPS scores on the national MAP test have gone up by at least 8 percent at every grade level since 2010. But Thompson says the Annual Report seeks to highlight the District’s focus on a well-rounded experience.
“We wanted to show that it’s not all about test scores. There’s a lot that goes into running a successful school and having successful students.”
Copies of the annual report will be available at parent-teacher conferences this month.