Chesterton Tribune                                                                                   Adv.

Duneland School enrollment falls by 213

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By VICKI URBANIK

The Duneland School Corporation’s first-day enrollment figures show a drop of 213 students, a decline that Superintendent Dirk Baer attributed largely to the new Discovery Charter School.

The first-day head count showed that 5,871 students attended Duneland on the first day Wednesday, down from 6,084 in 2009.

Baer said he believes that at least a good portion of that decline in enrollment is due to the new charter school, which opened on Monday with a full enrollment of 312 in grades kindergarten through six. While some of the higher grades at Duneland also saw enrollment declines, the most significant are in the lower grades.

Baer noted that the charter school offers full-day kindergarten at no charge, which Duneland does not. Among individual grades, Duneland’s full-day kindergarten enrollment took the largest dive this year, dropping from 257 students last year to 159. Duneland’s half-day program, on the other hand, increased by 30 students.

Other large decreases are seen in second grade, with a drop of 63 students; third grade, with a drop of 76 students; and 11th grade, a drop of 74 students.

In addition to the half-day kindergarten increases, other grades with increases in enrollment include fourth grade, an increase of 14; seventh grade, an increase of 17 students; ninth grade, an increase of 26 students; and 10th grade, an increase of 16 students.

A look at the enrollments at each building shows that the count is down in each one, except Westchester Intermediate, with an overall increase of 13.

Because state tuition funding is directly tied to enrollment, Baer said Duneland will see a drop in funding as a result. “It’s going to cost us,” he said.

Exactly how much Duneland will lose in state funding won’t be known until after the official enrollment count is taken in September. Known as the Average Daily Membership, the official count considers each kindergarten student as one-half, since the state only funds a half-day program.

Duneland gets approximately $5,000 in state funding per student. So if the official count shows a drop of 150 students, for example, Duneland would lose roughly $750,000. “That’s funding we won’t have that we have had previously,” Baer said.

This year, Duneland had 31 retirements among teachers and administrators and replaced only 17. Baer said until the registration numbers came in, Duneland couldn’t finalize some of its hiring decisions because of uncertainties over the enrollments.

He rejected the argument that if there are fewer students, Duneland needs proportionately fewer teachers. Such an oversimplification would apply if Duneland had just one building, he said, but not with multiple schools. He gave the example of a second grade at one school that lost a number of students, ending up with 22, while the second grade enrollment at another school stayed the same at 27; in order to equalize the class sizes, students would have to be bused to another school. Otherwise, a teacher is still needed for the second grade class with 22 students, as well as the one with 27, he said.

Overall, the first day of school went well at Duneland, Baer said. There were the customary glitches involving transportation, such as students getting on the wrong bus. Further, a mouse apparently chewed the fiber line serving the Liberty Schools and Jackson Elementary, disrupting phone service throughout the morning, causing more than the normal first-day chaos.

But Baer also noted that in stark contrast to last year, a tornado didn’t hit Chesterton this year, ripping off the middle school gym and causing assorted other building woes.

“It was a great first day,” Baer said.

The following are the first-day enrollment counts, first by grade level then by individual schools. Last year’s figures appear first. The numbers include students who are in special education who are attending school at Duneland.

Grade-By-Grade

Kindergarten, half-day: 161; 191

Kindergarten, full-day: 257; 159

1: 412; 415

2: 454; 391

3: 499; 423

4: 466; 480

5: 454; 459

6: 455; 457

7: 459; 476

8: 495; 474

9: 503; 529

10: 467; 483

11: 509; 435

12: 493; 499

Building-by-Building

Bailly: 490; 461

Brummit: 395; 336

Jackson: 388; 345

Liberty: 528; 511

Yost: 448; 406

Liberty Intermediate: 341; 335

Westchester Intermediate: 568; 581

Chesterton Middle: 954; 950

Chesterton High: 1,972; 1,946

 

 

Posted 8/26/2010

 

 

 

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