Enrollment dips

By BOB JOHNSON
Register City Editor

Enrollment in USD 257 schools is down 111 students from a year ago.
Board members were told Monday night that headcount was 1,333, compared to 1,444 a year ago.
“The official counting day still is a ways off (Sept. 20) and the numbers will likely change, though probably not by much,” Dr. Craig Neuenswander, superintendent of schools, said.
“Some kids have gone to Moran (Marmaton Valley schools) and some have moved elsewhere,” he said, “but we don’t know exactly the reason for the decrease. Historically we do have a somewhat transient population.”
The decrease was across the board, affecting practically every class level, though some were more pronounced. This year’s junior class has 82 students, 20 fewer than last year’s sophomore class. The second grade has 105, down from last year’s first grade of 126.
The largest class is ninth grade, at 119, one student larger than last year’s eighth grade class. No other class had an increase.
Offsetting the decline somewhat will be a new high school program designed to give anyone whose class has already graduated an opportunity to complete courses needed for graduation. David Grover, high school principal, said 43 people, ranging in age from 19 to 67, have expressed interest.
“That will add some FTE (full-time equivalency), but we don’t know how much,” Neuenswander said. He didn’t yet have figures on how many LaHarpe students were now in Iola schools. Some feared that when LaHarpe was closed, parents would move their students out of the district.
Neuenswander said the enrollment loss, 7.7 percent, would not affect the district’s budget. State law permits the district to use last year’s FTE — 1,379 — if this year’s falls below that number, which it seems certain to do.