I am pleased to report that for the second year in a row, enrollments at our three traditional schools exceed the projections made the prior year. In all, and as of Oct. 1, we have 66 more students than we anticipated.
We are still down students from last year, the continuation of a trend that started around 2003-04, but there is evidence over the last two years that declines in enrollment are slowing.
Due to the way our state pays for education, more students means more funding. So, to have 66 more students than we budgeted for means the school district will receive approximately $400,000 in funding we did not expect when we set budgets for this year.
Of course, it also means more students than anticipated in our buildings. So, as much of those dollars as necessary are available to sites to ensure they are properly staffed and fully supported to handle the extra kids.
There have been many extended discussions about how to best use these dollars at sites, and the result are as follows:
•At Sunrise River Elementary School, we have already added a full-time pupil support teacher, which reduces the student/teacher ratio in core areas of learning.
•At North Branch Area Middle School, a full-time social worker will be added to the staff to provide needed support to students and families.
•At North Branch Area High School, a half-time teacher will be hired in both Social Studies and English at the trimester to reduce class sizes in those areas.
The remaining funds, roughly $200,000, will be saved to help offset any future deficits.