The Herald Bulletin

September 16, 2013

Madison County schools expecting fairly steady enrollments

By Dani Palmer The Herald Bulletin
The Herald Bulletin

---- — ANDERSON — It’s counting time for Indiana schools again, and districts like Anderson Community Schools are expecting enrollment figures to remain steady.

The enrollment count officially began Friday, the first day schools could submit those figures to the Indiana Department of Education, and will end in early October with the deadline for reports to be submitted.

The count is important as a school district’s state funding is determined by the total number of students enrolled.

“It really makes a difference, the number of students you have,” Greg Kalisz, director of student services at ACS, said.

If ACS were to drop 100 students, for example, that’s about $650,000 the district would lose, because it receives around $6,500 per student.

In the same respect, if students are gained, so is funding. It’s all based on an ADM (Average Daily Membership) formula that varies year to year.

While ACS was still calculating its numbers Monday, the district isn’t expecting anything close to the drops experienced in 2010 and 2011, when it lost about 2,000 students.

Actually, Kalisz said, ACS isn’t even expecting a decrease like last year’s, when there were about 100 students lost to other school districts and private schools with Indiana’s school choice.

“It looks like we’ll really be stable,” he said.

Part of the counting process, Kalisz added, is the review of conflict reports, to ensure two school districts aren’t claiming the same students.

This has happened with special education students — who may actually be enrolled in Alexandria Community Schools, but coming to ACS for services — and in other situations.

With Warner Bodies soon bringing about 150 new jobs, there are hopes in Elwood that more families will move to the area.

For now, though, the district is down by about 20 students.

“Enrollment is down a little bit, but we continue to add students,” Superintendent Tim Smith said.

Four more students were enrolled into the elementary school just Monday, he added.

While school districts try to plan ahead for the future, Smith said, there’s “definitely” an impact on finances when it comes to those enrollment figures.

Elwood receives about $4,500 per student and has had to cut programs, such as music education, in the past with decreases in state budgeting.

When it comes to staffing decisions, Kalisz said, estimates are made on the previous school year’s spring enrollment. The prediction is that a district will have about the same numbers in the fall.

He said officials are “conservative” with teachers because once a contract is entered, it can’t be backed out of and the school corporation doesn’t want more faculty than needed.

He added that the district can always recall teachers or add more if they’re needed once the school year begins.

South Madison Community School Corp. is still working on those conflict reports, but Superintendent Joe Buck said officials are estimating an increase of about 80 students.

He added that there’ll be another count in February when “the basic tuition support received by school corporations will be adjusted according to the increase or decrease in enrollment.”

“This will be the first year for double counts in one school year,” Buck said.

School enrollments will be released to the public once all reports are submitted to the Indiana Department of Education.

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