Archive for Thursday, August 26, 2010

High schools continue to see enrollment drop

Decline seen as district prepares to shift ninth-graders next school year

August 26, 2010


Preliminary enrollment report

According to data in the Lawrence school district’s Unofficial Preliminary Enrollment Report:

• Elementary enrollment (overall): 6,027 students, up 2 percent from a year earlier.

• Biggest elementary school: Lawrence Virtual, 794 students in kindergarten through sixth grade, up 9.7 percent. Langston Hughes is the next biggest, with 520, up 1.6 percent.

• Smallest elementary school: Wakarusa Valley, 194 students, down 10.2 percent.

• Junior high enrollment (overall): 2,489 students, down 0.7 percent.

• Biggest junior high: Southwest, 632 students, down 7.9 percent.

• Smallest junior high: Lawrence Virtual School, 291 students, up 29.9 percent. Central is the next smallest, with 416, down 6.9 percent.

Lawrence and Free State high schools already are making room for incoming ninth-graders next year, as enrollment at the two schools continues to decline.

A report of preliminary enrollment numbers shows that 108 fewer students are attending the two schools compared with this time a year ago — a decline of 4.5 percent and an overall decrease of 11 percent since 2005.

Almost all of this year’s drop has come at Lawrence High, down 105 students from a year ago. The school now has 1,221 students, down 7.9 percent from this time last year.

Free State’s enrollment is off by only three students for this year, but that follows a drop of 98 students a year earlier. The school now has 1,064 students, down 15 percent from 1,252 at the beginning of 2005.

With the Lawrence school district’s ninth-graders poised to move up to high school next year — currently Lawrence’s high schools have 10th- through 12th-graders — administrators aren’t exactly fretting about the decline shown in their preliminary enrollment totals.

“And this year’s eighth-grade class is one of our smaller classes,” said Frank Harwood, the district’s chief operations officer. “This is the opportune time to move these grades.”

The preliminary numbers are recorded by administrators, then confirmed with individual schools during the coming weeks. The district will report its official enrollment numbers to the state Sept. 20, and those numbers will be used to calculate just how much money is sent back to the district for operations and other expenses.

So far the district’s overall enrollment appears relatively unchanged: 10,801 as of the end of last week, down just four students from this time a year earlier.

But the high schools are seeing the biggest changes, as they prepare for the upcoming reconfiguration for the 2011-12 school year.

Matt Brungardt, principal at Lawrence High, isn’t worried about the decline recorded so far this year. Preliminary numbers are just that — preliminary — and the district’s early start this year could be complicating numbers that will be adjusted by the time formal numbers get reported to the state.

“It’s not like we’re walking around seeing a bunch of empty desks,” he said.

Brungardt isn’t worried about the inevitable increase lined up to arrive for next year, either. Before Free State opened in 1997, after all, Lawrence High’s enrollment had been as high as 2,200 students across three grades.

Adding another 325 to 375 students next year won’t stretch LHS to its limits.

“I think we can accommodate them,” he said.


Robert Rauktis 7 years, 8 months ago

Oh-oh. There goes some more reimbursement money. Glad we now have room in those stadiums. Wouldn't want the tykes to hafta stand at their age!

Alabamastreet 7 years, 8 months ago

Actually pretty good news for the high schools. As the article points out, this will help with the transition next year. As a community, our focus needs to be proper pay for good teachers and not worry about enrollment. It would be great if we could get as much enthusiasm for science and the arts as we do for football, and I'm a huge high school football fan.

dragonfly0221 7 years, 8 months ago

Are these number drops due to a natural flex as kids graduate or is eduacation being sought else where? Are kids trasfering from one high school to the other? It would be interesting to know what the transfer numbers from one high school to the other are. Interesting comment about our early start influencing the numbers, we always start that early.

lawrence_citizen 7 years, 8 months ago

Maybe they are transferring to the private schools in town? How are their enrollment numbers looking this year?

mcontrary 7 years, 8 months ago

What is the significance of the drop? That is the more important aspect of this story and it was not included. Perhaps a follow-up is in order, one that includes the reasons or presumed reasons for the decline in enrollment.

Kontum1972 7 years, 8 months ago

how about being able to afford having kids....? mb it was good for us older folks in the past years...but this new generation mb just isnt into it...mb its the alternative lifestyles that are occurring....

Gary Denning 7 years, 8 months ago

100 students would mean a loss of over $400,000 in state aid plus another 30-31% that would be provided by a local option budget. This might not affect things this year because the funding formula allows districts to use last year's numbers to cushion the blow of a reduction in student numbers. But long term the district may lose enough money to pay 10-12 teachers' salaries.

Gary Denning 7 years, 8 months ago

Correct. I was just referring to the loss of aid based on the HS kids only.

mr_right_wing 7 years, 8 months ago

As a Christian fundy, I usually spend time with other like-minded believers, more and more of them have either decided to go with private Christina schools, or (more popularly) home schooling.

I still believe we should have 'vouchers' OR a way to opt-out of paying taxes to local school districts if you are a home-school family (that money saved can then be used to buy home school supplies.) It'd be nice if they also have some kind of a 'philosophical difference' opt-out for those of us who don't approve of what is being taught in schools (theories such as evolution and big-bang being taught as 'fact', no short period of 'silence' in schools for prayer (or just meditation/quiet reflection...?) and of course inappropriate sex education. (Not sex ed. altogether, but certain objectionable elements.)

I know this will not be a popular post; just part of being mr_right_wing! Bring it.

Deb Engstrom 7 years, 8 months ago

Public schools are the backbone of our democracy.

mr_right_wing 7 years, 8 months ago

Unfortunately we're hearing more and more goofy stories from school districts gone astray. There was a school district in Colorado (I think it was actually Denver) they put out a press release stating that they would no longer send any employee to Arizona (i.e. immigration issue) The school district where a kid decorated a baseball cap with an American flag and glued plastic toy soldiers to it; he was told not to wear it to school ... zero tolerance weapon policy. Then back a few months ago a few students were told to take off, or turn their shirts inside out; they had American flags on them and it was some kind of Mexican heritage day. That's just a small taste of what is happening more and more in our public (sometimes anti-American) schools.

mr_right_wing 7 years, 8 months ago

Private "Christina" schools?? How'd I miss that! I guess there's only so much a spell checker can do.

Take_a_letter_Maria 7 years, 8 months ago

Interesting. I went to the hs open house last night and every one of my kids classes had 28-30 kids in it except for choir and band. Of course both of those classes had way more than 30.

Angela Heili 7 years, 8 months ago

My son attends FreeState as a senior this year. He came home yesterday and said, "I feel sorry for the high school kids next year. That school is crowded as it is. Next year is going to be awful for those kids."

I agree with him.

hail2oldku 7 years, 8 months ago

I may be off by a little, but the combined is about what the population was at LHS when the split happened. Yes there were portables at LHS back then, but have your son think about what that would have felt like if he thinks this is crowded.

Maria - you can thank SOS for the overcrowding in the high school. Yes, you can really thank the legislature for not providing the proper funding for public education, but once that ship sailed it was the caving in to keep small schools open that costs more teachers their jobs.

1029 7 years, 8 months ago

Heck yeah! It's because more of us are recognizing that the only way to keep our kids safe from liberal propaganda (i.e. science, sociology, history, etc) is to home-school our kids.

SpeedRacer 7 years, 8 months ago

How many of these "lost" students are now in the Virtual School?

SWJayhawk13 7 years, 8 months ago

If Lawrence High is as bad as it was when I graduated, it's no wonder they've lost over 100 kids. Lawrence High was horribly run, the administration was a joke and had little to no control over the students OR the teachers. By the time I graduated, we had one teacher fired for having an affair with a student, one teacher fired for making racist comments to a student, a vice-principal that got arrested for DUI the night before graduation, a teacher that got fired for flipping out on my chemistry class and cussing us out (after throwing test tubes and other lab supplies at us), had a mini-race riot, a kid that brought a gun to school (the gun had a silencer). Overall, it was pretty hard to take any of the administrators or teachers seriously. Don't get me wrong though, I wouldn't have wanted to go to Freestate either. Both of the public high schools suck, I wouldn't be surprised if they are losing students to private schools.

And I understand that in some places, it wouldn't be uncommon for all of that and then some to happen in the course of one year, but it was surprising for Lawrence (at least at the time). It seemed like LHS had a lot more problems than Freestate, too.

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