Archive for Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Virtual school boosts district enrollment

Additional students keep state funding flowing into Lawrence

August 22, 2006


Virtual education is the key component to growth in the Lawrence school district.

For the third consecutive year, the Lawrence Virtual School, 2145 La., has helped keep enrollment numbers in the black.

If not for LVS, the district would have lost 76 students this year, according to a preliminary headcount released Monday. Instead, enrollment is up by 115 students.

The district receives the same base state aid for Lawrence Virtual School students and students enrolled in regular brick-and-mortar schools. The district takes its official headcount for state funding Sept. 20.

Julie Boyle, Lawrence school district spokeswoman, said the numbers are what the district expected.

"Just looking at our past, our recent history has been pretty steady : and we haven't seen any changes in our community to make us expect something different," Boyle said.

Before LVS opened in 2004, the district had seen declining enrollment for four consecutive years. Students enrolled in the Virtual School receive a laptop computer and printer, along with books and school materials. They complete their work off-site and interact with teachers by phone or electronically. It is popular with parents who home-school.

This year, enrollment declines were reported at eight of the district's 15 elementary schools, three of the district's four junior high schools and both high schools.

Free State High School alone saw a loss of 80 students.

"It does sound like a lot," Boyle said. "I can't explain it. I don't know the reason behind it."

Where the declines occur also has Boyle scratching her head. She said the district has seen stable enrollment in its junior high schools and high schools for the past several years and declines at the elementary level.

In estimates released in June, the Census Bureau claims Lawrence from July 2004 to July 2005 lost 26 residents - less than one-tenth of 1 percent of the city's overall population. But the numbers are significant because it is believed to be the first time in at least 30 years the city has recorded an annual decline in population.

The report also marks the fifth year in a row that the Census Bureau has shown the city growing at a rate well below its historical average of 2 percent.

This year's school enrollment numbers, including LVS students, show the opposite. Elementary numbers show an increase of 225 students. Junior high school numbers show a loss of 17 students and a loss of 93 students at the high schools.

"If you can draw anything from this count, it's that Lawrence is a very mobile community," Boyle said. "People moving in, people moving within Lawrence and people moving out."

The school district's general fund is based on how many students are enrolled on Sept. 20. The official headcount, which dictates how much state funding the district receives, is taken then.


lunacydetector 11 years, 7 months ago counting these virtual students should justify all the money being spent on the new and improved schools (bond, the school bond) AND the mill levy increase to increase the teachers' pay.

in other words, the enrollment numbers are decreasing, the city's population is decreasing BUT we are paying much more in taxes. i love subsidizing the failed policies of 'smart growth.'

prioress 11 years, 7 months ago

Be careful what you wish for, L.D.; KU and USD 497 are two of the most significant forces driving Lawrence's economy.

KsTwister 11 years, 7 months ago

Wait for the next property tax increase---if more move out than in ----can we get a reduction until it reverses?

Fred Sherman 11 years, 7 months ago

This is sad - and it shows that the health of Lawrence as a solid well-balanced growing community is not good. For a town that has on average a decent number of new home starts each and every year 400+ - yet the school district continues to decline in "traditional" enrollment every year for past six or more years it shows that the basic demographic makeup of the community is changing.
This is why the Census Bureau estimates that the town's population is stagnant or even declining. Homes in Lawrence are not being occupied by the traditional nuclear family. This demographic group is fleeing Lawrence to live in Johnson County or even live in Topeka where the housing costs are a good 20% less for the same sized home, and the job opportunities and average job wages are higher than what is available in Lawrence not to mention the lack of retail shopping options and opportunities in Lawrence.
If the leadership of this town and this includes more than the City Commission - is content on catering mainly to the mid-20 year-old demographic sector by keeping in place its current 1970's era retail public policies and the lack of investment in traditional neighborhood amenities that are attractive to a demographic group that chooses to live in town for some reason other than KU, this trend and decline of the community will continue. Opening up additional land for development south of the Wakarusa River should help in time as this will allow for a more competition for new development assuming that the same half-dozen major property owners and developers that already control a vast majority of land development in Lawrence don't sweep in and gobble up and purchase a majority of the land area to the south.
Opening up a large enough area for good competition for new development will help drive down raw land costs which will result into more affordable housing in Lawrence. It's the basic rules of supply and demand. The island mentality that exists in Lawrence on new development is a result of the public policies that are currently in place regarding the ability to extend infrastructure for new development. The small fraternity of Lawrence area developers that control a vast majority of raw land that can be developed have been living fat-and-happy for way too many years monopolizing and controlling the raw land market in Lawrence and not willing to pay their actual share of costs to extend infrastructure for new development. They have been living off the backs of the general tax payer and the city-at-large way too much by deflecting any and all proposals for increases in development fees. Yet, most every other growing area in the state of Kansas Johnson County, Topeka and the Wichita area all on average have much higher development and infrastructure extension fees than what is in place in Lawrence - and they all offer a lower level cost and a more balanced of housing options. Why is that? Think about it.

Archie 11 years, 7 months ago

I was told that the virtual student only has to attend two days and that the district will get full funding for that. Anybody know about this?

dizzy_from_your_spin 11 years, 7 months ago

So if it were a 50% / 50% ratio (virtual / brick & mortar), we'd continue to maintain 100% of the brick & mortar?

I'll bet the rural school districts would love that concept.

satchel 11 years, 7 months ago

We virtual schooled in Lawrence in 2004. It really is an incredible opportunity if you have the right family dynamics. We live in a town outside of Lawrence. LVS is open to everyone in the state of Kansas. People in different school districts are enrolling.. I wonder if Lawrence gets the money for them as well? If so, then you might say that without LVS their enrollment numbers would be very low.

I also think the reason why they would be low without LVS is that parents are pulling their kids from public daily, all over the nation. I know of a friend whose daughter asked her to homeschool her. SHe hated public and she is only 9 years old. Even though Lawrence schools are considered academically better than most, it is the social agenda by the NEA that parents don't like forced on their children. It is also because of the peer pressure at school and other various reasons as to why parents are pulling their kids.

Parents who homeschool and have pulled their kids used to use other curriculum. But since LVS is around $95.00 plus a laptop and all the materials; It has a top notch curriculum as well. It makes it hard to pass up. The curriculum normally costs around $1400-$3000 to buy outright. Also,it would put your child close to 3 grade levels above public academically.

WE chose private this year because we live out in the country and we wanted an excellent curriculum (the trivium), and the boys needed to hang around other kids as well. If one can't afford private, and they have a great social connection in their neighborhood, family, or co-op, church etc.. then I would highly recommend virtual school or private over public ANY DAY!

prioress 11 years, 7 months ago

I was told that the virtual student only has to attend two days and that the district will get full funding for that. Anybody know about this? +++++++++ Physically, perhaps. They get their instruction and feedback daily on the internet if they intend to earn any credits.

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