At Monday night's board meeting, the Clay Central-Everly school district came face-to-face with some depleting news: their enrollment numbers have dropped significantly in only one year's time.
Last year, the certified enrollment tallied 388 students in the school district, with 355 students sitting in class. The statistics presented Monday night revealed a certified enrollment of 339 students, and a bodies-in-seats enrollment of 331 students.
The certified enrollment number is the number that the state uses to determine funding for the next year. As the enrollment declines, so does the revenue for the following year's budget.
CC-E Superintendent Dennis McClain is searching for a reason for the 49-student deficit, though he has some theories that might serve as an explanation.
"We graduated 32 seniors last year," McClain said, "and we only brought in 16 kindergarteners."
Another theory involves supplementary weighting: The school receives additional help for students who have higher needs, such as English-language learners, special education students, and even students who are enrolled in concurrent classes, shared classes, or college classes.
Supplementary weighting also affects the number of students enrolled, creating the difference between certified enrollment and bodies-in-seats enrollment.
"If we have fewer seniors to take fewer college courses, that might affect the numbers as well," McClain said.
This year's senior class has 19 students, compared to last year's 32 students.
McClain also suspects geography may be a reason for the low enrollment.
"We're a larger district, geographically," he said. "Parents may work elsewhere, or another district may be closer to where they live. Especially if the student is of a driving age, it may be more convenient to open-enroll out to another district."
Regardless of the explanation, McClain noted that the district will be taking a closer look as to why students are leaving to attend other districts.
McClain said the district will make changes to boost enrollment, focusing on the programming the school offers.
"Open enrollment is parents exercising their choice on where their student goes to school," he said. "If we offer good programming, things that seem inviting to the parents, they may choose to send their student here, rather than to another school."
He continued. "The biggest thing is that we graduated a bunch of kids, but we didn't get a bunch of kids back in. Certified enrollment will definitely take some looking at."
The district submitted their numbers to the state, but they have not received any feedback yet.