After seeing consistently dwindling student numbers over the past decade, several area schools’ enrollments have remained steady this year. This is a welcome change since state funding depends heavily upon enrollment.
According to the Clark County Courier, “Enrollment decline and school budget concerns seem to go hand in hand as state public school funding is predicated upon student numbers. Public schools in South Dakota receive $4,491 in state aid per student.”
The Clark School District is down just two students this year from the 390 students enrolled for the 2012-13 school year.
Clark area schools Willow Lake and Henry are up 12 students each, with enrollments of 238 and 185 this year, respectively.
Also experiencing an increase in student numbers is Gackle/Streeter, up 10 students from last year’s enrollment of 84. Kulm showed an increase with 123 students compared to last year’s 115, and Ashley showed a modest increase, up to 131 students compared to last year’s 127.
The Faulkton School District will have six fewer students this year, 308 compared to last year’s 314, but the school is not discouraged by this fact.
According to the Faulk County Record, “The good news is that numbers in the first three grades are strong, 17 new kindergarten students, 21 first graders and 26 second graders.”
Not all area schools are so fortunate.
Of the area schools, the Britton-Hecla School District showed the largest decline in student numbers, dropping 27 students from a year ago to 457.
“We weren’t expecting that big of a drop,” Britton-Hecla Superintendent Kevin Coles said. “A number of kids moved with their parents to another district, and we have a few that are being home-schooled this fall that attended last year.”
The school also had a built-in drop of 11 students when comparing last year’s senior class of 46 to this year’s kindergarten number of 35. Given the current formula, Britton-Hecla will lose nearly $125,000 in state funding because of this decline.
According to the Britton Journal, “Britton-Hecla had held its own in recent years, but this year’s drop comes on the heels of a loss of seven students a year ago. The school also had a nine-student loss in 2011 and 10 in 2010, but a 21-student increase in 2009 had helped to offset those drops.”
The Bowdle School District showed a decrease of 12 students, dropping from 139 to 127.
Some schools showed a modest decrease, losing a total of five or fewer students.
For example, the Eureka School District shows a loss of just three students, with 135 enrolled.
Langford Area showed a drop of five students. Langford Area Superintendent Monte Nipp said that the decrease in his school could be linked directly to the difference in graduates vs. new kindergarten students. A total of 18 seniors graduated in May and there are 12 kindergartners registered this year.
“Everything else remained pretty stable,” Nipp said. “The numbers are what we expected.”