School numbers continue downward slide
Even as the school district deals with the financial ramifications of a six-year downward slide in student enrollment, the future of USD 464, at least according to one school official, looks bright.
"I think with the housing growth the way it is, in the next two or three years we'll see things turn around," said Richard Erickson, USD 464 superintendent.
When the official numbers were tallied last week, Tonganoxie's full-time equivalency enrollment totaled 1,393.
That's a drop from the 1999-2000 school year when the district had an FTE of 1,417.
"So we're down about 25 students from last year," Erickson said.
School district budgets in Kansas are partly based on enrollment, and with the state allowing $5,000 per student, the drop in enrollment means another hit for the district finances.
Kansas school districts can base their state allotment on the enrollment of the previous year, or by taking the average enrollment of the three previous years.
"Last year when we were at 1,417, we used the year before's enrollment of 1,466," Erickson said.
This year, state reimbursement will be higher if the district takes the average of the past three years, which comes out to 1,425 students, Erickson said.
"In actual FTE students, we're gong to lose 41 students from last year's count. And so at $5,000 a student, that's $205,000," Erickson said. "That's a lot of money."
Once again, the local option budget saved the district.
"Had we not had the increase in the LOB, it would be very difficult for us to operate this year," Erickson said.
"The state pays about 38 percent of the LOB and we make up the 61 percent with our local property tax," Erickson said. "Right now we're predicting a total budget for the LOB of $1,123,473."
The school district's working budget this year is projected to total about $9,662,290, Erickson said.
Total expenditures for the 1999-2000 school year reached $8,979,076.
At Basehor-Linwood, enrollment numbers are up by about 50 students, said Cal Cormack, acting superintendent.
"We came in this year at about 1,975 students," Cormack said.
But he said that number doesn't necessarily reflect growth in the community. That's because much of the increase comes from the Virtual Charter School, an Internet-based program targeted at home schools across the state.
Last year the VCS had an enrollment of 302. This year it's 365.
"Districtwide, we're probably right at where we were, or down a few students," Cormack said. "But with the added 50 students in the virtual school, that's basically the growth."
At McLouth, enrollment is fairly stable this year, coming in at an FTE of 546.5, compared to the 1999-2000 school year's enrollment of 551.
"I'm very pleased with the few declines that we had this year, because in 1998-1999, we went from about 570 to 550," said Jean Rush, McLouth superintendent.
An added bright note for the McLouth school district this year is that, as of early September, the district is out of debt.
"We're totally debt-free as a district," Rush said. "We paid off the last bond on Sept. 1."
The bond paid for construction of an addition to one of the school's buildings.
"We're excited to be debt-free," Rush said. "That's a huge accomplishment for the community."