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Janesville School District enrollment drops again

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FRANK J. SCHULTZ
September 25, 2010
— Enrollment is down again in the Janesville School District, but there’s good news, as well.

For one, enrollment didn’t go down as much as some people had feared. Some suspected that layoffs stemming from the GM plant closing would lead to families leaving town en masse.


The kindergarten-through-12th-grade count was 9,641, which is 131 fewer students than last September, the district reported Friday.


This comes after a decline of 176 students a year ago at this time, although the district gained some students after the fall count last year.


When pre-kindergarten programs are included, the district has 10,291 students this fall, a drop from last year’s 10,420


Superintendent Karen Schulte said she was pleased that the huge drop some had predicted did not materialize.


Schulte said she would like to see the K-12 enrollment go back up above 10,000, which could help the district qualify for some kinds of grant funding.


“We hope, with the new hospital and all our (school) programs, we will continue to attract new people to our community,” Schulte said.


The 4-year-old kindergarten program known as P4J saw an increase from 581 last fall to 593. That increase is good to see because it represents growth for the future; those students will bolster enrollment as they advance through the grades, said district CFO Keith Pennington.


Another bit of good news: The drop won’t make another hole in the district’s 2010-11 budget, which the school board will discuss when it meets Tuesday.


Pennington said the state-aid formula, which uses enrollment to determine funding, has a hold-harmless clause for districts with declining enrollment. That, combined with the fact that Pennington planned for an enrollment decline when he set up the budget, means the enrollment drop will not affect the bottom line.


Pennington still has to contend with a $1.66 million budget hole created by higher-than-anticipated costs of the new teachers contract and insurance. That’s less than an earlier estimate of $2 million, however.


The plan is to balance the budget using the Fund 10 balance, which acts as a reserve fund, although the school board has yet to agree to do that.


The district’s enrollment report includes these items:


-- Elementary enrollment declined by 47. Lincoln School saw the biggest outflow to other local schools as well as other districts or states. Lincoln lost 23 students. Enrollment also dropped at Monroe, Wilson and Washington. Roosevelt School saw an increase of 14, and Harrison increased by 12.


-- Middle school enrollment dropped by 36. The biggest loss was at Edison, with 33 fewer than last fall.


-- High school enrollment, which includes the charter schools, was down 48, from 3,385 to 3,337.


-- Craig High enrollment this fall is 1,624. Parker High has 1,506 students.


If you go

The Janesville School Board meets at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Educational Services Center, 527 S. Franklin St. The agenda includes:


-- The school board’s first look at the detailed budget book for 2010-11.


-- A report on the athletics budget.


-- A review of energy-conservation plans.


Also, the board’s personnel committee meets at 5:30 p.m. A pay increase for non-union staff, which includes administrators, is on the agenda.



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