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Janesville schools enrollment continues to drop

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FRANK J. SCHULTZ
February 1, 2012
— Janesville public school enrollment continues to track downward.

The January enrollment count shows a decline of 62 from the same time last year. That's a 0.6 percent drop, from 10,255 to 10,193. Those numbers include pre-kindergarten programs.


Officials noted in an internal memo that numbers of staff members have declined in recent years, also.


The biggest drop in staff numbers came this year, when the district lost the full-time equivalent of 67.8 teachers and four administrators in cost-cutting moves.


District numbers show teaching staff is down 11 percent since 2005, and administrative staff down 9.7 percent.


Kindergarten-through-12th grade enrollment is down 7.5 percent over the same period, while overall enrollment is down about 2 percent.


Preschool for Janesville, the 4-year-old kindergarten program that began in 2009, continues to see increases. P4J enrollment rose from 586 to 632 between January 2011 and January 2012.


P4J students are part-time students, so they don't count as much as K-12 students when it comes to doling out state aid.


Officials hope the P4J numbers reflect an eventual enrollment turnaround, but they know that not every 4-year-old in their program will continue into public-school kindergarten the next year, said Yolanda Cargile, director of at-risk and multicultural programs.


The latest figures show a decline from September's count. Officials say there's usually a dropoff from fall to winter.


Why enrollment continues to decline is unknown.


The closing of the General Motors plant and associated businesses at the end of 2008 was a factor, of course, but school officials don't get notified of every family's reason for moving, Cargile said.


"It's hard to say people are leaving Janesville now for lack of finding employment," Cargile said. "It's really hard to give you an answer."


The district will continue its efforts to improve student achievement and various programs to attract families to Janesville, Cargile said.


The latest enrollment numbers will affect the district's income when the state calculates state aid next fall, but exactly how much is hard to say because of the multifaceted school-funding formula.


If all factors remained the same as they are today, the district would lose about $300,000 in state aid due to the enrollment drop, said Keith Pennington, district chief financial officer.


The district would be allowed to make up that loss through higher property taxes, Pennington said.



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