The 2008-2009 school year is officially under way, and we have experienced a great beginning. Our greatest challenges have been traffic flow and late buses, but even those issues have been dealt with very effectively by our schools and our community. We are very thankful for the efforts of all district staff members and parents. If you consider the fact that we opened school this year with a first-day enrollment of 9,210 students with three of our five elementary schools frozen in enrollment and the other two elementary schools receiving the overflow from them, we are doing quite well.
Last school year, we noted that we had at least one more uncomfortable year to go before we experience some relief as a result of the elementary school freezes. In August 2009 we will open Sugar Creek and Pleasant Knoll Elementary Schools, and this should provide significant relief at the elementary school level. Also, we plan to have new elementary attendance areas approved by November of 2008. Our first public hearing on the new attendance areas is scheduled for September 29th in the Nation Ford High School auditorium at 7 p.m. This will be a great opportunity to learn about potential plans and provide feedback to the school district.
We anticipated a slight decrease in our rate of growth due to the decline in the economy, but that has not yet come to pass. Between our first day of school this year and our last day of school in 2007-2008, we have a reported increase of 357 students. Since our first day of school this year and our sixth day of enrollment, we have experienced a reported increase of 188 more students. Our total enrollment as of our sixth day is 9,398. All of this indicates that we have grown by a total of 545 students (as of August 27th) since the end of last school year. It is worth noting that we normally experience growth all year long, so the figure of 545 will continue to increase. The point to be made is that growth continues to be a significant factor in all phases of our daily work and planning.
In spite of the challenges associated with growth of this nature, our school district continues to excel in the academic arena. Our students, teachers, and schools continue to be recognized for their outstanding achievements. Thanks to our community and their overwhelming support of our bond referendum last March, we are well on our way to meeting at least half of the facility needs addressed in our 10-year facility needs study. It is worth pointing out, however, that meeting our facility needs is only one step in providing the most "inviting" learning atmosphere possible for our community's students.
Recent decisions by our Legislature have continued the trend of removing more and more autonomy from local school boards. This trend is endangering our ability as a fast growing school district to address our operational needs. We will once again need our community's support as we attempt to work with our Legislature to bring about needed changes to our funding system at the state level. We believe there is an ever growing need for more local autonomy. We further believe that our community should be the entity that holds us accountable for the operation of our school district. The partnership between our schools and our community is one of the greatest reasons for the success and reputation of our school district.
In closing, let me again say thank you to our community for your continued support as we work through our growing pains. Together, we will overcome every challenge and continue to provide our students with the best educational opportunities possible.