DESOTO COUNTY, MS (abc24.com) - DeSoto County schools keeps adding to its ranks, holding on to the title of Mississippi's largest school district. But larger schools don't mean larger class sizes.
There are almost 33,000 students in the district, 458 of those are new this year. As more students attend the schools, the county is making a point to keep the teacher - student ratio low.
"We have an abundance of technology and different programs, but the greatest asset any child has is their teacher," says Superintendent Milton Kuykendall.
With DeSoto County adding students at every grade, it's a given the county needs more teachers. By law, the district has to add one for every 27 students who enroll, but Kuykendall tries to go the extra mile.
"I want the teacher pupil ratio lower than that if possible," he tells abc24.com. "Sometimes we can, sometimes we can't."
This year, they could.
"I created 47 new teacher positions that we added. About 15 or 20 of those were for growth. The rest was to equal things out with teacher pupil ratio." Especially in DeSoto middle schools.
"We realized the teacher pupil ratio was lower in elementary and high school than it was in middle school." So, about half of the new hires were placed in middle school positions.
"I look at it this way," Kuykendall says. "I'm dealing with the people of DeSoto County's greatest commodity. The commodity they treasure most, and it's the commodity that will lead tomorrow's future."
As far as building space for all the new pupils, if the growth rate stays at this level, DeSoto has enough room to last another five years before the county needs to expand.