After recent declines, enrollment in Lawrence school district holds steady compared to last year

photo by: Dylan Lysen/Lawrence Journal-World

Lawrence Public Schools district offices pictured in April 2021.

Recently completed counts show that enrollment in the Lawrence school district has held steady from last school year to this school year.

According to the district’s enrollment report, which is completed on Sept. 20 of each year, total enrollment in the district dropped by one student from last school year to this school year, from 10,975 to 10,974 students. The count represents a departure from trends in recent years, where the district was losing a few hundred students annually.

Specifically, there were 11,609 students in the 2019 count, 11,284 students in the 2020 count and 10,975 students in the 2021 count, meaning the district lost more than 600 students over that period, according to last year’s headcount report.

However, exactly what the district’s enrollment will mean for the district’s budget is yet to be determined. While the district’s headcount enrollment has a direct bearing on the district’s full-time equivalent enrollment (FTE), which is used to determine how much funding the district receives as part of the state’s K-12 education funding formula, it is not the only factor.

District spokesperson Julie Boyle said on Friday that the count conducted this week is preliminary and unaudited, and calculations related to the budget impact have not yet been made.

The district’s headcount enrollment will ultimately be used to calculate the enrollment FTE that will be used in next school year’s funding formula, but could also have bearing on the current year’s funding. That’s because while the base funding formula uses the prior year enrollment in its calculation of enrollment FTE, supplemental funding for “at-risk” students and other student populations that receive additional funding under the funding formula is calculated using enrollment FTE based on current enrollment numbers.

Recent enrollment declines led to an approximately $3 million decrease in funding for this school year. Ultimately, the Lawrence school board made $6.4 million in budget cuts to staff and programs to account for the funding decline, allocate additional money for staff raises and build up the district’s reserve funds.

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