Enrollment in McPherson School District is down compared to 2012, according to a report given to the McPherson school board Monday night.
Chris Ruder, associate superintendent, said enrollment has dropped by 68 students compared to 2012.
Enrollment was 2,317 students in 2012 and 2,249 in 2013. Ruder said he expected to see a slight increase in enrollment this year. The drop was consistent across all grade levels.
Enrollment numbers were counted Sept. 20. Counts taken on the first day of school also indicated a dip in enrollment this year.
State funding for schools is determined by enrollment, so a lower enrollment can mean less money for a school district.
Ruder said because Kansas allows schools to use the previous year’s enrollment numbers to calculate state funding, the district will be fine for this year.
Districts also can use the current year’s enrollment or a three-year average.
“It’s not going to affect us this year, but it could affect us next year,” Ruder said.
Randy Watson, superintendent, said district officials aren’t sure yet why enrollment has dropped, since jobs and housing have been stable.
“There’s no indication in the community that this was going to happen,” Watson said.
Watson said there may be socioeconomic factors and that several families may have moved out of the district, but officials will need to study the issue before they know for sure.
“We’ve never seen a situation as to why we lost at every grade level since we started keeping track,” Watson said.
Despite this drop, the district has more kindergarten students than in previous years and significantly more students who do not speak English fluently.
To handle these increases, the school board approved the hiring of two one-year aides, one in kindergarten and one in the English Language Learner program. The cost for both of these aides is not expected to exceed $40,000 from the board’s contingency fund.
Because many students in the English Language Learner program speak Spanish, the district plans to hire an aide who also is fluent in Spanish.
In other business:
n The board accepted gifts of $79 from Target, $2,000 from Dollar General and about $50 worth of miscellaneous items from Trash to Treasure to district schools.
n The board recognized Devon Ronsse, a student at McPherson High School, who has been named a semifinalist in the National Merit scholarship program.
n The board heard reports from three teachers in the district Post Masters program and four teachers who attended summer training for Advanced Placement courses.
Contact Josh Arnett by email at jarnett@
mcphersonsentinel.com and follow him on Twitter @ArnettSentinel.