Cleveland ISD anticipating enrollment to exceed 12K this year

Stephen McCanless, superintendent for Cleveland ISD, welcomes Cleveland ISD employees and guests for this year's convocation on Aug. 1. The first day of school is Aug. 10.

Over the last decade, Cleveland ISD has grown from a small town school district to one of the fastest-growing school districts in the state. This year, Cleveland ISD anticipates 11,400 students on the first day of school on Aug. 10 and to enroll another 1,200 students throughout the 2022-2023 school year.

A sharp boost in student enrollment means big increases in the number of Cleveland ISD employees. The District now has 1,970 employees, up from last year’s 1,630 employees, making Cleveland ISD the largest employer in Liberty County. The starting pay for a first-year teacher at Cleveland ISD is $59,000, making the District competitive one for teacher recruitment and retention.

While overseeing so great a number of employees might be a daunting task for many people, Superintendent Stephen McCanless, who was promoted to the position in February 2022, seems to take it all in stride, quickly rattling off the names of the District’s principals, many of them in their first year in the position.

“I love my job and I love the people I work with,” McCanless said.

Later this week, grand opening celebrations will be held by Cleveland ISD for four new campuses – Santa Fe Elementary, Santa Fe Middle School, Cleveland Ninth Grade Campus (formerly Northside Elementary) and the new Northside Elementary. This will give Cleveland ISD a total of 12 campuses, listed below, along with names of the principals:

Cleveland ISD board trustees and administrators show off their dance moves at the District’s convocation on Aug. 1 at Cleveland High School.
  • Cleveland High School – Dr. Bart Miller
  • Cleveland Middle School – Christina Castillo
  • Ninth Grade Campus – Dr. David Knobloch
  • Santa Fe Middle School – Joshua McDonald
  • Southside Elementary – Kelli Blankenship
  • Northside Elementary – Pete Armstrong
  • Eastside Elementary – Mike Skinner
  • Pine Burr Elementary – Gail London
  • Santa Fe Elementary – Stacey Baughn-Hunt
  • Cottonwood Elementary – Heather Barrett Crosby
  • DAEP – Steven Sherrouse
  • Douglas Learning Academy – Mark Rodriguez

On Monday, Aug. 1, McCanless led the District’s convocation, a welcome-back celebration for District employees, held at Cleveland High School’s new gym. The convocation featured a performance from Drum Café, a team-building organization that uses the power of music to “Unite. Uplift. Inspire!” Dale Monnin, one of the founding members of Drum Café, led the performance, which challenged the District’s employees to collaborate and connect through the use of drums.

McCanless said there are no major changes this school year except a modification in the District dress code that prevents students and staff from wearing hoodie-type jackets and shirts.

“It’s both a safety precaution and an instructional issue. After two years of hearing from our administrators about hoodies, and how the students were covering up their ears and keeping ear buds in during instructional time, we changed it. The teachers were having to constantly redirect the students, which results in a loss of instructional time,” said McCanless.

As there is no end in sight for growth within Cleveland ISD, with 20,000 students projected by 2026-2027 and 30,000 by 2031, McCanless said the District must continue making efforts to maintain the small town values and feel that longtime residents in Cleveland have grown to love and expect.

“I believe we can grow fast but still maintain that small town identity. We want to continue encouraging pride in Cleveland ISD. ‘The Cleveland ISD way’ is our leading motto and it will guide us as a District. In a week, we will have banners hanging from all the phone poles from Walgreens to the high school advertising every campus, every program, the big red C and our pride in the community of Cleveland,” he said. “We can still live up to what makes Cleveland so great, even if we do have close to 2,000 employees now.”

McCanless will address Cleveland ISD residents and staff in a Facebook live session at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 3. You can tune in by going online to

To keep up with District events, including Meet the Teacher nights at each campus, go online to Meet the Indians events will be held on Aug. 8, 6 to 8 p.m., at Cleveland High School; Aug. 9, 5 to 7 p.m., at all elementary campuses; Aug. 9, 6 to 8 p.m. at all middle school campuses; and Aug. 5, from 6 to 8 p.m., at the Cleveland Ninth Grade Center.


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