Archive for Thursday, September 22, 2005

USD 491 growth exceeds projection

Continuing enrollment trend means more money, new programs for district

September 22, 2005

As the picture of USD 491's total enrollment becomes clearer, so does the apparent need for a service to reach a new student population.

"What we can release now is we have to finalize several things by Oct. 4, but it looks like we're going to be up slightly above what we projected, which was 1,254 full-time enrollment," said superintendent Marty Kobza.

With current projected totals, the district's full-time equivalence enrollment could see an additional 20- to 40-student increase. In terms of real students, the total will be closer to 10 or 20 added students, Kobza said.

The increased student population, counted by the state as the full-time equivalence enrollment number, will lead to more money for the district.

But because of an influx on non-native English speakers, some of the extra money has already been earmarked for an English as a second language program.

With that in place, it shouldn't affect the district's overall budget this school year, Kobza said.

"The reason it won't is that we're going to be implementing an ESL program. We found that we have students in need of those services that wasn't budgeted for initially," Kobza said. "So that will take a sizable piece of the new enrollment."

The crystallizing figures seem to support an overall growth trend within the district.

"It's real consistent with what our projections have been, and it has followed the pattern that has been established the last five or six years," Kobza said. "After we get our official, official totals we can give you a real solid number."

Preliminary reports find growthfocusing on one particular segment of the district's overall student body.

"What we're experiencing is a lot of growth in our elementary schools right now," Kobza said. "Not exactly in our secondary, but our elementary schools are getting large."

Three elementary school classes this year total more than 115 students, Kobza said.

Within the expanding ranks of the district's younger students, some classes remain smaller.

"Typically our classes are ranging from 95 to 110 kids, but there are two that are small in there, the third-graders, particularly, have a small number," Kobza said. "A hundred is probably a good estimate."

With the expanding class sizes comes a new budgetary concern for the district -- spiking natural gas prices.

"We're bracing like everyone else for the fuel pricing this winter," Kobza said. "Hopefully, we'll have some enrollment to cope with that."

Because of the size of the district's properties, the district will be watching the price of natural gas.

"With the square footage we have within our district, that's a very significant part of our budget," Kobza said.

The undefined totals hang on the final number of district students at the Eudora Community Learning Center.

In the meantime, the district is looking at a maximum increase of 20 actual students.

"We may have a few more than that because of our enrollment at the Community Learning Center," Kobza said. "That's encouraging from our standpoint of a need to add the ESL program so we have a way to help fund that which is good."

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