This is the time of the year when Bexley school administrators start considering staffing for the next school year. Typically, Superintendent Mike Johnson gives members of the board of education a "heads up" about enrollment patterns just after winter break. In February and March, he and the school principals begin thinking about how to staff the district's five buildings to handle the number of students they expect to see in the fall.

This is the time of the year when Bexley school administrators start considering staffing for the next school year. Typically, Superintendent Mike Johnson gives members of the board of education a "heads up" about enrollment patterns just after winter break. In February and March, he and the school principals begin thinking about how to staff the district's five buildings to handle the number of students they expect to see in the fall.

Bexley's enrollment has remained consistent over the past several decades with dips occurring only periodically. Right now, the school district is experiencing one of those dips, as a class of 166 high school graduates leaves to be replaced with a fall freshman class of only 140 students. Enrollment at the elementary and middle schools is back up after a slight decline in recent years, but the high school is having to make adjustments to accommodate its 4 percent drop.

By the time parents register their children for kindergarten in early April, Dr. Johnson's enrollment projections have begun to turn into hard numbers. Several staffers will have announced their retirements and it will be time for administrators to put together a giant puzzle: How to best deliver quality programs for K-12 in the most economical way possible.

Any school district is a people-centered concern. Obviously, Bexley is in the business of educating young people and sending them off into the world. We also are a people business in the financial sense, as the salaries and other compensation for Bexley's 264 employees (full-time equivalent) account for nearly 78 percent of the school district's $30-million annual budget.

As our schools make staffing adjustments and hiring decisions in the coming months, district administrators are mindful of maintaining class sizes at the levels dictated by district policy: 20 to 22 students in each primary level classroom and 22 to 25 at the intermediate level. They also strive to recruit the most talented teachers available.

Fortunately Bexley is a great place to work, as indicated by the 3,000 teachers who apply for each K-3 position open in our schools. We attract talented, experienced and energetic staff members -- people who go on to become certified SMART Board trainers and teach college professors how to enhance learning with the state-of-the-art technology tool; teachers who spend spring break with student marine biologists on a field trip to Andros Island; art specialists who nurture the kind of work that garners statewide recognition; teachers who arrange experiences and build service projects so that our young people are aware of their bigger world.

Yes, we have to move staff around to adjust to changing enrollment. We have to get creative to deliver high quality programming with complicated master schedules at the middle and high school levels. In the end our goal is to do it in such a way so that everyone benefits -- the students, the teachers and the Bexley community.