This year’s enrollment is lower than expected in schools across the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District, which could lead to funding issues as the year progresses.
As of Oct. 5, the district is 115 students below the expected enrollment of 8,781 according to Board of Education documents. Overall, enrollment is down one percent.
The official head count lasts for 20 school days, starting Oct. 2 and ending on Oct. 27. The OASIS Count, or On-Line Alaska School Information System, is used to detemind student-based revenue from the state.
“We are now in the thick of the count period and … that is what drives funding,” Superintendent Sean Dusek said at Monday night’s Board of Education meeting. “I’m not going to venture to guess, but it could be close to 100 students less than we projected.”
Dusek said he will have more information on the final number in November.
Once the count is completed, the state and school district double-check the numbers before making final funding calculations official in early spring.
“This is a huge reason why we have that fund balance, and why we are conservative when we move forward, particiularly with hiring practices,” Dusek said. “… We did have a small handful of unfilled positions that we likely won’t fill.”
As far as other cost saving measures go, Dusek said that the district would most likely recommend that they utilize some of the about $1.3 million from general fund balance which the board had authorized.
“If we need to,” Dusek said. “And we may not need to because it also depends upon if those 100 students include intensive needs students. Then we would truly have a problem. If it doesn’t, then it’s a little bit different. … So, we need to take a look and see how our intensive needs count came in.”
In Alaska’s Foundation Formula, which decides how much state funding a district is allocated, an intensive special education student is counted as the equivalent of 13 students.
In the Oct. 5 snapshot of enrollment throughout the district, 24 of the 43 schools reported enrollment in the red. Ninilchik School showed a defecit of 15 students, a difference of 13 percent. Soldotna Prep reported 20 fewer students than the projected 210.
Some schools saw an increase, like Nikolaevsk School counting in at 13 more students than the projected 63 or Mountain View Elementary enrolling 7 percent more students with 464 over 435, but overall the district checked in at 8,666 students instead of the project 8,781.
Numbers may vary throughout the remainder of the counting period before a finalized enrollment number is tallied.
Reach Kat Sorensen at firstname.lastname@example.org.