School student numbers remain stable in most area districts
MECOSTA COUNTY — With the spring student count complete in school districts throughout the area, numbers have been logged at, or close to expected totals.
Since the fall student population count, little has changed in most districts. School administrators generally anticipate this to be the case, as do state planners. As a result, the spring count has less “muscle” when calculating per-pupil state funding throughout Michigan.
School districts receive 90 percent of the per-pupil funding dollars based on the fall count and 10 percent based on the recently generated spring numbers.
Only Chippewa Hills schools saw a substantial dip in numbers.
For the Chippewa Hills School District, count day brought disappointment with a double-digit decline in students.
The district recorded 2,045.46 students for spring count, compared to 2,083 students in the fall, amounting to nearly 38 fewer students. The 0.46 student is a student enrolled part-time, explained Superintendent Bob Grover. While Grover wasn’t pleased with the drop, he also recognized there is a normal attrition from fall to spring.
“It’s pretty common for our numbers to be higher in the fall than in the spring, but I can’t see a reason right now for why the difference was as much as it is,” Grover said.
The unofficial spring count number for Morley Stanwood Community Schools is 1,173, which is 10 students higher than the fall count.
“We’re up 10, which is great and I’m not complaining,” said Superintendent Roger Cole. “Still, this number is no predictor of fall enrollment. Last year, our fall count was 1,176 and our winter count was 1,182-ish, but we’d lost almost 20 kids by the time school started in fall 2015.
“Unfortunately, had those 10 kids been here in the fall, they would have generated $70,000. From the spring count they’ll generate $7,000.”
In the Evart Public School district, count numbers for February are at 856 students, which is no different from numbers in October, according to EPS Interim Superintendent Shirley Howard.
“Our enrollment has remained stable,” Howard said. “It’s encouraging to see the numbers stay the same.”
CROSSROADS CHARTER ACADEMY
CCA’s student count numbers stand at 631 — a slight fluctuation from the fall count of 632.
The Big Rapids Public School student count came in at 1,950 district wide. This number is not necessarily final and is contingent on a count of the number of students from the Big Rapids virtual school — which is counted with a different formula.
“We are in a unique situation with our virtual school,” said Superintendent Tim Haist. “It may take time to file final numbers.”
Whatever the Virtual School count, Big Rapids count numbers appear to be staying stable.
According to Reed City Area Public Schools Superintendent Tim Webster, the district’s count increased by five students from fall, bringing the unofficial total to 1,565. The high school showed a decrease of four students and the middle school showed an increase of four students since the October count. The elementary school increased by five students, Webster added.
The numbers were a pleasant surprise for Webster, as the district typically sees a drop of about 10 students from fall to spring counts.
“It’s always nice to see an increase in enrollment,” he said.
Although the numbers are unofficial, the student population is slightly ahead of the budget projection for the 2015-16 school year. Webster hopes to keep the spring count numbers into the next school year and hopes to see large kindergarten classes in the near future.
In neighboring Baldwin Community Schools district, (the West Shore ESD) Superintendent Stiles Simmons is pleased with count consistency.
“We have 561 students enrolled, including pre-K,” said Simmons. “The enrollment count is consistent with counts in previous years for this time of year. These numbers indicate that we are holding steady as a district as far as enrollment is concerned.”
Baldwin schools may soon be facing “competition” from a new charter school — Gateway to Success Academy — opening in Scottville in the fall.
“We are not concerned about losing students to G2S Academy for two very important reasons. First, we don’t rely on state aid funding, so our funding is not tied to individual students,” said Simmons. “Second, the G2S Academy will provide a unique program for area students and thus a unique service for area school districts.
“The formation of G2S Academy was at the request of local superintendents who were looking for a viable program to meet the needs of small segment of the student population.”