257 schools see drop in enrollment



September 28, 2010 - 12:00 AM

USD 257 has 28 fewer students enrolled for the fall semester than one year ago, 1,309 compared to 1,337.
The drop in enrollment won’t mean much of a change in state aid, which is based on full-time equivalent enrollment and not raw head count, said  Dr. Craig  Neuenswander, superintendent of schools. Weighting factors, such as the number of students who qualify for free meals, are used to figure FTE.
Whatever effect lower enrollment will have on the district financially won’t be known until spring, when a state enrollment audit is done.
Enrollment in the four grades of high school fell by 36 students, 419 to 383. The middle school lost five students, going from 288 to 283.
Enrollment for pre-school through fifth grade increased by 13, 630 to 643.
The senior class is the smallest at 77 students. The largest class is third grade with 114 students.
The trend in recent years has been for kindergarten classes to be above 100 pupils; this year’s is 102. If that continues it could offset a series of sub-100 classes in secondary schools. The 10th and seventh grades are each above 100 students.
Board members noted that Iola’s population, the primary source of students in the district, has fallen steadily in recent years, going from nearly 7,000 in the 1970s to about 5,200 today. Part of the recent decline may be traced to the 2007 flood that destroyed 120 homes, primarily in the south part of town.
Students transferring to neighboring districts — a count won’t be known until later — and home-schooling also have affected enrollment.
Meanwhile, new housing in Cedarbrook on North Cottonwood has caused a shift of population to the north and a mismatch of elementary school boundaries.
Neuenswander said administrators and a parents committee would review boundaries and have a recommendation for changes in the spring.
“For the past several years we have had to move an increasing number of students away from what should be their home school in order to balance class sizes,” he said.
The last change of elementary boundaries was 10 years ago.
Jefferson and Lincoln elementary schools are home to kindergarten through fifth-grade classes while McKinley Elementary School has kindergarten through third-grade classes.

SUMMER SCHOOL programs were reviewed.
Brad Crusinbery said 82 pupils regularly attended a three-week session in July for elementary students at Jefferson, where he is principal.
Among those were 18 incoming kindergarten students, “all of whom displayed growth in all areas,” according to tests given at the start and end of the session, he said. The youngest students concentrated on capital and lower case letters, letter sounds and number recognition. First- through fifth-grade students received grade-specific instruction in reading, writing and mathematics.
At the high school, 54 students recovered credit in 18 subjects, including two who made up work they lost during extended spring semester illnesses. Principal David Grover said two Crossroads alternative school students completed enough work to graduate, as did one IHS student. The session ran 20 days in June.
Principal Jack Stanley said 19 students at his school completed work.
“We had three return in August to finish requirements,” he said.

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