Janesville School District enrollment down

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Catherine W. Idzerda
Saturday, October 7, 2017

JANESVILLE -- Enrollment in the Janesville School District is the lowest it's been in at least a dozen years.

On Friday, the Janesville School District released the numbers from the state's September enrollment count. They show a drop of 113 students -- from 10,256 in September 2016 to 10,143 this year, according to a district news release.

In September 2006, enrollment was 10,372. In 2008, enrollment shot up to 10,541 with the addition of 4-year-old kindergarten students.

In a memo to the school board, Director of Pupil Services Kimberli Peerenboom wrote that the district's enrollment "currently aligns with demographic data associated with the city of Janesville."

Birth rates went down between 2009 and 2011 but began to rise between 2012 and 2014.  Children born in those years are beginning to show up in Janesville schools.

This year, kindergarten enrollment is up 28 students, and enrollment in 4-year-old kindergarten is up 21 students.

Wisconsin school districts will get about $6,948 in state aid per pupil, $200 more per pupil than last year, said Keith Pennington, chief financial officer for the school district.

However, aid is based on a three-year rolling average, so the district won't immediately lose aid for having 113 fewer students, Pennington said.

In addition, the state aid each district gets is based on a variety of factors, not just the number of students, he said.

Last year, the district received about $68.4 million in state aid. This year, Pennington expects the district will receive about $68 million.

The school district also had a drop in the net number of students open enrolling into the school district, falling from 178 last year to 166 this year, according to the memo.

Under open enrollment, parents can apply to enroll their children in a school district other than the one in which they live.

The drop of 12 open enrollment students was despite a $10,000 marketing campaign the school district ran during the open enrollment period in February and April in an effort to entice students from other districts.

District communications specialist Patrick Gasper said looking at only the 166 figure in isolation doesn't tell the whole story.

"It isn't about only having a net gain of students but retaining from year to year those that do decide to open enroll into the district," Gasper wrote in an email to The Gazette.

In fact, the number of students open enrolling into the district did increase, but so did the number of those open enrolling out.

"There is no concrete data available that identifies why a family chooses to open enroll into or out of a particular school district," Gasper wrote.

The Janesville School Board will hear a report on the enrollment figures at its meeting Tuesday night.

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