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'It's a nice problem to have': De Pere schools at or near capacity

De Pere High School just 41 short of full capacity ahead of first day of school
Posted at 9:08 PM, Aug 28, 2023
and last updated 2023-08-28 22:08:06-04
  • Video shows Superintendent Chris Thompson and senior Andrew Hoey explaining the benefits and drawbacks of high enrollment numbers at De Pere High School
  • Current DPHS enrollment sits at 1,459 prior to Thursday's first day of school — the school's highest in its history
  • Hoey said the high enrollment can cause larger class sizes, teachers without a classroom, and an overcrowded parking lot
  • Thompson and Hoey cite De Pere's strong academics and the city's growth as reasons for the high enrollment numbers

(The following is a transcription of the broadcast story)

One local district in De Pere will start class Thursday with some of its schools at or near capacity.

The largest enrollment in school history is set to fill the hallways of De Pere High School. Senior Andrew Hoey said the parking lot can be chaotic with campus near capacity.

"From one end to the other, just a line of cars," Hoey said. "So, yeah, that can be really tough. Kind of stressful, driving in the parking lot."

Superintendent Chris Thompson acknowledges the drawbacks of high enrollment.

"You see very crowded hallways," Thompson said. "You do see situations where teachers are not assigned to a specific classroom."

But he said it does give the district flexibility.

"It's a nice problem to have, because it does afford us some funding potential that other school districts that have declining enrollment face," Thompson said. "We don't face that."

1,459 students are enrolled at De Pere High School this year — just 41 short of the building's maximum capacity of 1500. Foxview Intermediate School is at 670 students this year — more than its official capacity of 650.

The superintendent said the district started closing open enrollment and did not accept any new high school students this year, but Hoey said students come from all around the area to attend De Pere.

"I definitely do think people in the community see De Pere and see what we're doing and think it's desirable as a school," Hoey said.

De Pere School District was ranked as a top-35 school district statewide last year, and Thompson hopes it can continue that reputation by maintaining small class sizes.

"We provide our students and our community a fantastic education, and we just want to make certain that our facilities can be part of that support piece," Thompson said.

The district's community facilities task force will recommend high enrollment solutions to the school board next month, which may include an addition here or an entirely new school.