LOWELL | Because enrollment numbers are down for the state count and it could be a trend, the Tri-Creek School Board is looking at opening its borders a bit.
During a recent work session, the board learned there are 69 fewer students enrolled in the district this year than at the same time last year. That means less money from the state.
The state looks at average daily membership, a measure of enrollment, to determine funding. If enrollment declines, then revenues will be adjusted down, Superintendent Debra Howe said.
Seniors graduating mid-term will make high school figures artificially low when the state collects its second set of numbers in February.
That would be a problem for Tri-Creek because the district will need the same number of employees when numbers go back up in the fall, Howe said.
The board discussed making the district's schools available to the children of Tri-Creek teachers living outside the district.
It's a matter of money.
Howe said a drop of 69 students equals about $300,000 less in revenue.
While expanding borders cannot be limited to district teachers' children only, School Board President Doug Ward said the number of openings can be limited. He said district teachers' children get priority, according to state law.
"It would be good to know how many teachers' kids there are and how many openings we have," Ward said.
An online teachers' survey will be prepared to collect that data.
A small drop in numbers at the high school was expected for the September count, and the elementary stayed fairly tight, said Lynne Haberlin, Tri-Creek director of innovations in learning, curriculum and instruction.
"At the middle school, we had 33 kids that just didn't show. We don't know where they went," Haberlin said.
About 40 seniors are planning to graduate mid-term, Howe said.
"That will hurt," she said.
Board Vice President Michelle Dumbsky said, "It's important for (high school) parents to understand we're offering college courses here, tuition free."
She suggested exit interviews could be conducted with those families to help them see the value, particularly monetary, of graduating at the end of the school year.