ST. JOHN | Lake Central public schools are experiencing more of a decline in enrollment than anticipated, the School Board heard at a recent meeting.
The preliminary school enrollment counts taken on Sept. 14 show a net loss of 126 students over enrollment figures in the 2011-2012 school year.
“We anticipated losing 100 students,” said Mark Kellogg, director of primary education, who gave the ADM, or average daily membership report at the board meeting.
ADM helps determine the per-student funding schools receive beginning in January,
That many fewer students will lead to a loss of about $587,000 in reimbursement from the state, according to Rob James, Lake Central School Corp. director of finance.
“Lake Central School Corp.’s reimbursement rate for 2012 is $4,663 per student,” he said. That is one of the lowest per-student funding in the state.
“Out of 357 school districts in the state, we rank 351st, and two of those school districts (at the bottom) are online schools,” James said.
The state took over school funding several years ago, changing the funding formula. Per-student funding is no longer based on property taxes, but on the state sales tax. School districts with more students qualifying for free and reduced lunches and textbook assistance receive more funding per student.
For example, at $7,686.25 per student, the Gary Community School Corp. has the highest per-student funding among the 23 school districts in Lake and Porter counties and is among the highest in the state.
There were 9,631 students enrolled in the 10 Lake Central public schools during 2011-2012. The preliminary enrollment figures for 2012-2013 are 9,505 students, Kellogg said.
The district’s six elementary schools declined 50 students. The three middle schools saw a loss of 83 students, while Lake Central High School gained 27 students over last year.
Kellogg’s report showed drops in specific grade levels, including first, second, fourth, fifth, sixth, eighth and 10th. All other grade levels, except 12th grade, gained students.
He explained that declines in enrollment will continue because the numbers of students enrolling in the early elementary grades are dropping.
“We’ve had an 80 student loss because cohorts are smaller,” Kellogg said. Cohorts are groups of students who are in the same grade.
While Lake Central High will graduate more than 800 students this school year, there are only 327 kindergarteners and 658 first-graders registered this year. That means fewer students coming in than are graduating, he said.