Enrollment drop puts squeeze on Vermillion school budget By David Lias
Plain Talk �? �? �? A shrinking student enrollment in the Vermillion School District will no doubt mean members of the local school board will need to sharpen their pencils when it comes time to plan next yearâ�?�?s budget. �? �? �? There is a direct link between the number of students attending classes and the amount of property tax and state aid funding the school district receives. �? �? �? As the student enrollment shrinks, so does the amount of revenue available for the day-to-day operation of the school. �? �? �? In fiscal year 1998, Vermillion boasted an enrollment of 1,443. Nearly every fiscal year since then, however, student numbers have declined.�? The drop in enrollment was negligible in FY2001 and FY2002. Numbers began to go downhill after FY2005. �? �? �? Enrollment climbed to 1,322 in FY2007, and school administrators, after studying local population trends in Vermillion, believed that upswing in pupil numbers would continue. �? �? �? Class sizes, however, took a tumble, dropping to 1,288 in FY2008 and 1,249 this fiscal year. �? �? �? â�?�?Weâ�?�?ve had a reduction of about 194 students since 1998,â�? Superintendent Mark Froke told the Vermillion School Board Monday. â�?�?Thatâ�?�?s an average annual loss of about 17 students a year. If you take an average of roughly $4,000 per student in a combination of local property taxes and state aid, thatâ�?�?s a loss of about $70,000 per year on the average versus an enrollment situation thatâ�?�?s flat, or even.â�? �? �? �? The shrinking enrollment, and declining enrollment, he said, are two of the major factors responsible for the Vermillion School Districtâ�?�?s need to opt-out of the freeze in property taxes. �? �? �? Vermillionâ�?�?s school enrollment in the past 12 years has decreased by about 11 percent. â�?�?The overall state enrollment has decreased by about 9 percent, so we at about a 2 percent faster decline than the entire state,â�? Froke said. �? �? �? He told the school board that working formulating the districtâ�?�?s annual budget would be a relatively easy task if enrollment stayed the same each year, or if there would be a small increase, as the local district experienced in FY07. �? �? �? â�?�?We were able to catch up on things, because we had some extra funding come in,â�? Froke said. â�?�?We were expecting that to go up some more, but as you see, it went down.â�? �? �? �? With a 3 percent statutory increase in funding mandated by the state Legislature, the enrollment loss that the Vermillion School District is experiencing from last year to this year, â�?�?will eat up most, if not all, of the 3 percent increase that is in state law,â�? Froke said. �? �? �? A kindergarten class this fall that didnâ�?�?t keep pace with the graduating seniors of last spring is, in part, responsible for the big drop in enrollment from FY2008 to FY2009, he said. �? �? �? â�?�?We graduated out 106 seniors last year, and we brought in 89 kindergartners this fall,â�? Froke said. â�?�?And for some reason, the first grade class going to second grade lost 14 children.â�? �? �? �? He said that may be due to parents who graduating from USD and moved from Vermillion.