Schools report enrollment numbers

Published 11:29 pm Friday, November 23, 2018

Enrollment in Pike County Schools is up this year while numbers in the Troy City Schools system and Pike Liberal Arts School have fallen from last year.

Enrollment had been falling at Troy City Schools since before Dr. Lee Hicks arrived as superintendent. Enrollment grew for the first time under Hicks last year, but the school finds itself serving fewer students this year.

The school grew from 1,893 students in 2016-2017 to 1,903 in 2017-2018. That number is the average daily membership (ADM), calculated over the first 20 days of school after Labor Day, which Alabama uses to determine state funding to the schools through the Foundation Program. This year ADM has fallen to 1,820.

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Hicks said part of the drop might be due to one particularly small class.

“Looking at the numbers, we stay about the same except for one grade level that our number is lower than average,” Hicks said. “We’re averaging 140 per grade but we only have 110 in second grade. But then we have 152 in the first grade.

Hicks said it’s too early to know how the drop in enrollment will affect the system’s funding.

“We won’t know until later when the final numbers are released from the state how it could affect teaching units,” Hicks said. “With the state legislature going into session soon it might not affect us. They may change the divisors.”

The divisor is the number of teachers per student that the state foundation will fund. If the divisor stays the same, Hicks said the system may have less teachers in the next year.

“It could possibly impact some teaching positions, but we don’t know how many yet,” Hicks said. “We’re going to have some teachers retiring at end of the year so we could be working through attrition.”

The only thing Hicks said the board can do to try to bring more students in is provide the best quality schools that they can.

“There’s nothing that we can do,” Hicks said. “You enroll what is in your community. Obviously we try to make the schools as great as they can be; I feel like we do that. We’re seeing that we’re not losing people to private schools or other areas. We look at every year withdrawals and enrollments and reasons why they leave. The ones we are losing are moving away from Troy, away from the area – not a school down the street or a private school. They’re choosing to move to surrounding areas. We’re not in the process of trying to grab students everywhere; we’re trying to give the students we have an excellent education.”

Enrollment is up again at Pike County Schools after seeing an increase last year as well.

“We are at 2,220 this year from 2,170 last year,” said Dr. Mark Bazzell, superintendent.

Bazzell said he is also not greatly concerned with enrolment numbers.

“We just believe that it’s important to provide quality educational opportunities for kids; if you have those quality offerings out there, people will want to come to your programs,” Bazzell said. “It’s the things we’re doing on the academic side that make the difference. Some people might move for non-academic reasons, but the bulk depends on what you’re doing in the classroom, the kind of opportunities you’re providing.”

Pike Liberal Arts School is back down in enrollment after being at peak enrollment in the past year.

“We’re right at 460, which is down a little bit from last year” said Principal Eric Burkett. “We had 519 last year. That was a large number; we had a big senior class and so kind of the way they filtered out and K4 filtered in is just how the numbers worked out. With us, it’s always going to fluctuate up and down. I would say 520 was at the top end of our capacity.”

With enrollment dropping back down, Burkett said plans by the school to add a new building is on hold.

“We’ll still look into doing that, but of course that depends on enrollment and we’re not at a point right now where we have to do that,” Burkett said. “We get the most out of our facilities; we have good facilities here.”