District officials at North Branch Area Schools were expecting to see another substantial dip in enrollment at the start of this school year, but the reduction that was being braced for turned out to be less than anticipated.
Randi Johnson, director of finance and human resources for the district, told the school board Thursday night that as of Oct. 11, the district was only down two students from last year’s level across all grades.
The district has over 20 students apiece more than projected in the middle and high schools, and Sunrise River Elementary School is six students higher than projected.
The district had projected 63 less students would enroll this school year.
“Overall, this is just really great news,” Johnson said.
Johnson noted there is also a financial impact to having more students than anticipated.
“Students drive our revenue, and enrollments are exceeding expectations,” she said. “My initial guess is that the revenue in the general fund will be about $350,000 higher.”
Johnson said she knows North Branch schools are still losing students to other districts through open enrollment, and others are choosing charter or home schooling, but the recent enrollment numbers might be a sign of good things to come.
“It feels like hopefully we’ve turned a corner,” she said.
Superintendent Deb Henton agreed with Johnson that the enrollment figures are good news, but she noted the district might have to make adjustments to accommodate more students than projected.
“If we’re going to go to that level with enrollment, we need to really think if we’re staffed appropriately to do that,” she said.