Enrollment drop costing schools

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 1, 2002

Where have all our students gone is a question the Dallas County Board of Education is pondering a lot these days. A lot of money is riding on finding the answer to that question.

During the 2001-2002 school year, total enrollment decreased 111 students. This year, enrollment decreased 200, something Willingham calls &uot;a big drop in one year for a system.&uot;

At the end of September each year, enrollment figures are totaled, then analyzed and applied to the next fiscal year’s budget.

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With this year’s larger than usual drop, an increase in enrollment next year means funding will fall short

Of the 14 schools in Dallas County only Salem and Shiloh elementary showed an increase in enrollment, for a combined total of 22 students.

That excludes the vocational and alternative schools and combines tabulations for both Keith Middle-High School students.

Every other school in the system showed some sort if decrease, from as low as two students at Dallas County High to as high as 75 students at Southside High.

Bruce K. Craig Elementary’s enrollment dropped by 37 and Southside Primary by 24.

Three schools &045;&045; Southside High, Bruce K. Craig and Southside Primary &045;&045; combined make up 68 percent of the county’s decreased enrollment.

This year’s enrollment figures will cost the system between 10 and 12 teacher units, which is equivalent to $50,000 each unit. Throw in the cost used for materials and supplies, $525 each teacher unit, technology, $181 each teacher unit, and library, $135 each teacher unit, and the price keeps rising.

That doesn’t include money allocated for student units, which &uot;adds up to be more&uot; money lost, Willingham said. This, in essence, will effect the system’s fiscal status next year since each school year is based on the previous year.

School officials attributed the reasons for the continued fall in enrollment to a variety of different sources: variance in the number of students in the different grades; transfers from one school to another, which, according to Willingham, are very few; the decreased population in the county, which, as indicated by U.S. Census statistics, has shown more than a 2,000 population decreased in the county from 1990 to 2000.

In looking positively towards the future for the Dallas County School System, Willingham said, &uot;At some point it will level off.&uot;