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Area school districts have their certified enrollment numbers for the 2018-19 school year.
Mid-Prairie and Highland saw slight increases in their certified enrollment, while Lone Tree saw a small drop.
However, there is a difference between the numbers the state certifies as enrollment and the actual number of students who are provided instructional programs by the district.
The state uses a complicated formula to tabulate certified enrollment and bases its funding for districts based on that formula.
Mid-Prairie Superintendent Mark Schneider explained that the state formula counts home school students as “.3 or .4 depending on whether or not they dual enroll” and preschool students as half a student.
“Certified enrollment counts parts of students,” he said. “When I talk about 409 open enrolled students, I am talking ‘students in the seats,’ not ‘parts’ of students.”
Mid-Prairie’s certified enrollment for the 2018-19 school year is 1,257.95, while the total number of students being provided instructional programs by the district is 1,496.15.
The certified enrollment is up by just over nine students from last year, while the total number is up by more than 17 students.
For Highland, certified enrollment is 631.84, up 14.64 students from 2017-18. However, the actual number of students served is 578.24, which is down 5.76 students from last year.
In Lone Tree, certified enrollment dropped 2.35 students to 363.73, but actual students served rose by 3.85 students to 453.93.
“You need the funding number to increase and you need the state to give more than 1 percent new money,” Ken Crawford, who serves as superintendent of both the Lone Tree and Highland districts. “They have averaged around 1.7 percent over the last five years.
“That is why districts with declining enrollment have been hit so hard – less funding and less percentage of funding. Double whammy.”
Open enrollment – both in and out of districts – plays a significant role in official enrollment numbers for area schools.
Mid-Prairie and Lone Tree school districts have a large number of students open enrolling into the district this year, while Highland has many students open enrolling out of the district.
This school year, Mid-Prairie has 409 students enrolled from outside the district, up from 377 students last year.
Schneider said that 193 of those 409 students attend school full-time in K-12 classrooms, 212 students attend MP for the Home-School Assistance Program, and four students come into K-12 classrooms for dual enrollment purposes.
The state formula counts those 409 students as 278.2 students.
Only 40 students from the Mid-Prairie district enrolled in another public school district.
“For every student that open enrolls out of MP, we receive 11 students from other districts that open enroll in,” Schneider said.
In Lone Tree, the state-certified number of open enrollments is 108.3 for this year, with 18.1 students open enrolling out of the district.
Highland’s state-certified number for open enrollments is 67 into the district and 120.6 out of the district.
“With the Highland district being so skinny and so long north to south, sometimes other schools are actually closer than Riverside or the high school location,” Crawford explained.