Low enrollment could impact school budgets
Student population count begins Monday for state funding this year
Current student enrollment in Valdez City School is falling short of projections so far this year according the district superintendent Dr. Lisa Stroh.
“Our enrollment is at 617,” Stroh said during a report to the board of education Monday night. “It’s 14 less than we projected.”
If current enrollment numbers do not increase before the end of October, the lower than estimated number of students in the district’s three schools will result in a loss of around $111,000 Stroh said.
State funding for Valdez City Schools District, as for other school districts in Alaska, is based largely on the Base Student Allocation (BSA) which funds districts a set amount for each student enrolled during the official state count that typically runs for four weeks in October.
“It (the official state count of students) begins on September 30 to October 25,” said Amber Cockerham, the district’s finance director.
The BSA for this year is $5680 per student. While other factors also influence the amount of funding schools receive, a special needs student may qualify the district for extra funding to pay for specialized equipment or staffing for instance, the BSA is often thought of as the “meat and potatoes” of the state’s share of funding education.
Like many school small school districts in Alaska, Valdez has seen a steady decline in student enrollment for almost 10 years.
Midway through last year’s count in October of 2012, Valdez City Schools averaged a district-wide enrollment of 635 students, 30 short of its estimate used to figure the budget before the school year started.
In 2011, the state officially funded Valdez City Schools based on a student count of 673.15 students. The fraction in the student count can be accumulated by students that are homeschooled but take some district classes and by other factors according to officials.
While the business of schools is to teach students how to count, it is also counting on students attending school as regularly as possible, especially during the time period of the official state count of students.
District officials keep an especially close eye on the number of students attending classes daily during this time-period and work daily at encouraging regular school attendance.