School districts remain steady, drop in student enrollment

OSCEOLA COUNTY — With the 2015-16 fall count day completed, most school districts in the Mecosta-Osceola Intermediate School District have lost students, but it was expected.

Throughout Michigan, student count day took place on Oct. 7.

Each district is required to report its student numbers to the state to determine how much money it will receive.

“There continues to be a significant migration of families out of Mecosta and Osceola counties which affects student enrollment,” said Curtis Finch, MOISD superintendent. “During the past few years, the decrease in counts has slowed, but we would like to see the numbers increase in the future.”

For the 2015-16 school year, estimates each district in the MOISD will receive $7,391 per student.

Despite the funding, many schools continue to struggle financially.

“The districts are built on student count numbers because that is how they get a major part of their funding,” Finch said. “That number is not keeping up with the cost of living and it’s impacting the school districts. The expenses for everything are going up, but the state funding for schools isn’t keeping up.”

All reported student count numbers from the MOISD are unofficial.

Reed City Area Public Schools had a fall count of 1,546 students. Compared to its spring count number of 1,560, the district dropped by 14 students.

Although 14 students might not seem like a big difference compared to the overall count, it's a difference of $103,000 in the district's budget.

“We budgeted to drop 15 this year, so it was expected,” said Tim Webster, RCAPS superintendent.

Last fall, RCAPS increased its fall count by 82 students, which significantly increased its budget.

“After last fall’s increase, we expected to see a little decline,” Webster said.

Evart Public Schools dropped in enrollment by 23 students when comparing the fall count of 858 to the spring count of 881.

“It’s always disappointing when numbers go down, but it wasn’t surprising,” said Howard Hyde, EPS superintendent.

Hyde believes a big factor in the decline is families moving out of the district.

“It’s less than what we budgeted for, so it is a concern,” he said.

At Pine River Area Schools, the official student count day numbers reveal the districts have approximately 1,054 students.

Superintendent Matthew Lukshaitis said the board of education budgeted for 1,060 students, but after blended count numbers come in, he said he believes the district will be close to what was predicted.

Herald Review Staff Writer Karin Armbruster also contributed to this article.