Total enrollment in the Janesville School District dropped by 82 students this year, but enrollment in 4-year-old kindergarten and the district’s net gain in open enrollment both increased.
The numbers are based on the annual pupil count conducted statewide on the third Friday in September. Enrollment statistics affect how much state aid school districts receive.
On Tuesday, district Director of Student Services Kim Peerenboom told the school board that overall enrollment has been declining for several years but that “one of the positives is that we continue to grow our P4J numbers.”
The district started P4J, its 4-year-old kindergarten program, 11 years ago. There are now 19 sites throughout the city that house P4J classes.
This year, 700 students enrolled in the program, up from 623 last year. It’s the most students the program has ever had, P4J coordinator Angela Lynch said.
Another area of growth for the district is in open enrollment.
Open enrollment allows students to attend schools outside their home districts. This year, 577 students enrolled in to the district compared to 397 Janesville students who left.
That’s a net gain of 180 students, the most for Janesville since the P4J program began.
Janesville’s dip in total enrollment aligned with a drop in the city’s population at the end of the last decade. But the birth rate began to pick up starting in 2012, and those children are beginning to arrive in 4- and 5-year-old kindergarten classrooms.
The Janesville School District isn’t the only one in the area dealing with declining enrollment. Eight of the 14 districts in Rock and Walworth counties had decreases from last school year to this one, and over five years, nine of the 14 saw their enrollment numbers decline.
Districts get almost $7,000 in state aid per pupil, so enrollment numbers matter. To make sure districts don’t have to absorb a significant loss of funding in any one year, state school aid is based on a three-year rolling average.
In addition, enrollment numbers make up just one part of the state aid equation; the state considers a bevy of other factors in determining how much money each district gets.
City officials said a seemingly never-ending spell of rainy weather the last several weeks has hampered crews trying to finish converting part of South River Street to a festival street in downtown Janesville.
Since this spring, the city has been reworking a block-long stretch of South River Street the city can cordon off temporarily to host festivals. The original goal was to wrap up work and reopen the street this Friday.
City Engineer Mike Payne said Tuesday a spate of rain over the last week has slowed finishing work and streetscaping. Payne said he hopes crews can cap off the project and reopen the street by the middle of next week.
Recent rains have pushed river levels high, and rainy weather also delayed crews finishing work installing curbs, pavers, benches and other features. The street won’t reopen until that work is complete.
The street should be open in time for the city to roll ahead with Fun on Festival Street, a planned community block party Friday, Oct. 26, showcasing the new street and completed portions of the adjacent town square along the west side of the Rock River.
Molly Nolte, management information specialist for the city, said the city’s block party might come before completion of all work the city had hoped to finish by mid-fall in the town square area.
Parts of a concrete bike path suspended over the river and intended to tie into the north end of the town square can’t yet be completed because a gravel access road crews had built in the river is underwater. The water is flowing too fast to put large construction equipment into the river, Payne said.
Nolte said it’s likely the block party Oct. 26 could be the first and last major event hosted this year along the new festival street.
“We might be kind of kicking off festival street season and closing it down all in the same day this year,” Nolte said.
Nolte said the block party will happen rain or shine. She said a live band plans to play at the event, which will feature food trucks, locally made beer and events for kids.
Payne said the reopening of the festival street by the middle of next week is weather-dependent. Rain has to hold off long enough for crews to complete finishing work.
Adjacent to the South River Street project, the state Department of Transportation is now rolling ahead on the removal of the West Milwaukee Street bridge.
Although street closures along West Milwaukee Street and River Street have temporarily knocked out motorists’ normal access to the first block of the downtown business corridor west of the river, crews working on the two projects can complete scheduled work without being in each other’s way, Payne said.
James “Mike” Baker
Betty L. (Hull) Cooper
Earl Joseph Findlay
Thomas H. Glass
Henry L. Johnson
Terry Lee LeMahieu
Steven B. Lund
Roberta M. Matzke
Kristin “Kris” Jensen Meier
Charles D. Nolan
Debbie Lynn (Plock) Thiel
John A. Todd
Robert S. Waesco Jr.
Cynthia Marcella Wyss