Archive for Wednesday, September 6, 2000

Tonganoxie’s enrollment down again

September 6, 2000

Once again, enrollment numbers for the Tonganoxie school district have dropped.

This is a continuation of a six-year downward slide.

"It looks like right now we're down about 20, and I would expect by Sept. 20, we'd be down somewhere between 20 and 30 students," said Richard Erickson, superintendent.

As of last week, the preliminary count of full-time student equivalent (FTE) came to 1,398. In comparison, a year ago on Sept. 20, that number was 1,417, Erickson said.

The difference comes in part from having a large 2000 graduating class.

"Last year we graduated a class of 123 seniors," Erickson said. "And we're bringing in a kindergarten class of 86, so there's a big disparity there."

But this year's enrollment numbers are close to the predictions Erickson made at the close of the school year.

"Obviously, we've had some move-ins this summer, or we'd be 37 down in head count," Erickson said. "We've had a few move-ins that have helped make up that deficiency."

But the drop doesn't mean the district will feel the financial pinch at least not this year.

Each year, the district has the option of basing the school enrollment numbers for state payment on either the previous year's enrollment or on the average enrollment of the three previous years.

In taking the average of the past three years, the district will show an enrollment, for state payment, of about 1,420 FTE.

The news at McLouth is good, said Jean Rush, superintendent of McLouth schools.

"It looks right now that we're going to be holding our own, the same as last year," Rush said.

The unofficial count is now registering at 551. This doesn't include special education students or students in early education preschool.

Rush said the stability in enrollment numbers was a relief. The school district had studied years of enrollment numbers and had predicted another decrease, something to which the district was becoming accustomed.

"We're following three years of decline so it will be wonderful if we maintain our enrollment," Rush said.

An added bright note for the McLouth school district this year is that, as of last week, the school district is out of debt.

"We're totally debt free as a district," Rush said. "We paid off the last bond on September 1."

The bond had been acquired to pay for construction of an addition to one of the school buildings.

"We're excited to be debt free," Rush said. "That's a huge accomplishment for the community."

Down the U.S. Highway 24-40 corridor to the east, Cal Cormack assistant superintendent of the Basehor-Linwood school district, said enrollment is remaining fairly stable this year.

"We may be down a few students, but overall we will be either comparable to last year or slightly above," Cormack said.

Two schools in the district are showing increases in enrollment and two schools are showing decreases.

"I'm not quite sure where it all shakes out," Cormack said.

But one thing he is sure of is that the Basehor-Linwood Virtual Charter School, through which home school students across the state enroll in the school district and follow classes through the Internet, boosts enrollment numbers. The VCS has an enrollment of 330, compared to last year's enrollment of 302.

Cormack noted Tonganoxie's projected enrollment decrease of 20 to 30 students.

"We might have been comparable to Tonganoxie's decrease of 20 to 30 students," Cormack said. "But the virtual charter school makes up for that."

Still, he's projecting an eventual boom.

"We keep thinking we're on the verge of some pretty explosive growth, like Tonganoxie is," Cormack said. "But until all the improvements on sewers and so forth are completed in this part of the county, that isn't going to happen."

Last year's FTE enrollment was 1,924, and this year's is about 1,921, Cormack said.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.