A trend of increasing enrollment may be reversing for Del Norte County Unified School District.
The school district has 75 fewer students as of October than it did last year, said Jeff Napier, assistant superintendent of business. The district had projected a 2017-18 enrollment of 3,712 but the actual count as of Oct. 20 was 3,637, according to Napier’s enrollment report to the school board.
The district will submit last year’s average daily attendance figures, 3,444 for 2016-17, to the state for funding purposes but it will face a $340,000 revenue loss, Napier said. If the district’s funding were based on this year’s average daily attendance so far, it would experience a revenue loss of $800,000, he said.
The district receives about $10,000 per student in state funding, Napier said.
“We’re hoping it’s not going to be permanent,” Napier told the school board Thursday. “My gut’s telling me it’s going to come back up, so I’m just going flat based on last year’s enrollment.”
Following a dip in enrollment for the 2014-15 school year, the number of students had increased over the past two years. In 2016-17 the student population jumped by nearly 100 students, Napier said.
This year, however, 112 students who finished 2016-17 at district schools were “no shows” when classes resumed for 2017-18, Napier said. Thirty of them went to Uncharted Shores Academy, while files for other students were sent to schools in the Sacramento area, he said.
“I assume that probably has something to do with correctional officers,” he said. “I’m told vacancies at the prison will be filled, but we don’t know if they’ll be filled with people with kids or filled with young singles.”
The enrollment decline is spread out districtwide but Napier said the number of sixth graders in particular declined. The district received 27 new fifth-graders last year but they have since left, he said. Crescent Elk Middle School houses most of the district’s sixth-graders.
Due to the decline in enrollment, the school district will have to revise its budget in December to account for the loss in average daily attendance, Napier said.
Napier said the district is a little overstaffed but that’s due to it wanting to avoid combining two grades in one classroom.
“Some classrooms should be at 32 and they’re at 23,” he said, referring to the number of students in a class. “I really can’t look at any of the (school) sites and say we can lose a teacher at this site unless we wanted to do combo classes but we don’t want to do that.”
Napier noted being able to use last year’s enrollment data for funding this year gives the district some time to plan for the following year should the student population continue to decline.
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