Washington Evening Journal

Fairfield Ledger   Mt. Pleasant News
Neighbors Growing Together | Sep 21, 2018

Enrollment declines for Highland School

Oct 11, 2017

By Xiomara Levsen, The JOURNAL


Enrollment hasn’t been certified yet, but it looks as if the numbers are down in the Highland Community School District.

Interim superintendent Dr. Mike Jorgensen told board members he wished he had better news for them at the school meeting Monday evening.

“The numbers — two of them are kind of in line with what I expected,” Jorgensen said. “One of them kind of came in as a surprise.”

Jorgensen gave the board the preliminary enrollment numbers. He said there were eight additional students open enrolled out for this school year. This is a lot fewer than the applications filed for open enrollment.

“We have 13 less students in the seats — present students,” Jorgensen added. “The killer to me was that we are down 18 students that open enrolled in — that number to me is very surprising.”

Overall, the district is looking to have 39 students fewer than last year, which is about a $261,000 reduction in general funds for next fiscal year, he added.

“The good news is we have nine months to begin that planning process,” Jorgensen said.

He said he has already asked the principals to brainstorm and develop a plan to see where reductions could be made and come to a consensus on the reductions could be made. He used the same process a few years ago in the Washington Community School District and said it worked out well there.

Jorgensen told board members reducing $261,000 from the general fund would equal to four to five teaching positions, but that doesn’t necessarily have to be where the direction they have to go for all of the reductions.

“But it is significant,” Jorgensen added, “that is just to break even.”

There is also a question of how much money the Iowa Legislature will approve for funding this year.

“We’re hearing there’s going to be a strong push from the Republicans to go with zero percent growth,” Jorgensen said. “Some people think we might be able to get 1 percent because it’s an election year. Still, even if you get 1 percent that brings back about $80,000 of that $260,000.”

This might also affect what the board decides to do with the superintendent position for next year, he added. If the district decides to go with a full-time superintendent they’ll need to factor in the salary and insurance when reducing the general fund for next year.

“I wish I could deliver better news but I guess I’d rather deliver it nine months out than two months out,” Jorgensen said.

Robinson asked Jorgensen what the actual enrollment was this year even though it wasn’t certified yet.

Jorgensen said it was 616.2.

“What were we last year?” Robinson asked.

Board secretary and business manager Sue Rich said last year’s enrollment was 629.3 students.

Robinson asked if they lost a bus of open-enrolled students from Iowa City. Jorgensen said no.

“We looked it up,” Jorgensen replied. “There was four less kids coming in from Columbus. There’s seven less kids coming in from Washington.

There was five less from Iowa City and two less kids from Williamsburg.”

Other items covered at the school board meeting included: approval of the Title I application, approval of engagement letter with Piper & Jaffrey, approval of counsel for bonds with Ahlers & Cooney and first reading of board policies series 500 to 502.


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