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Enrollment falls, but less than expected

Enrollment in Independent School District 196 continues to decline, but the numbers provide optimism for school administrators.

The District 196 School Board hear its annual October enrollment report Monday.

The decline of 190 students, or .68 percent, is better than projections. The total enrollment as of Oct. 1 was 27,683 students.

Enrollment in elementary schools is up, while middle and high schools suffered a slight decline. Overall though, the enrollment totals represent a slower decline than numbers projected in 2000.

"These were remarkably different, and they were on the plus side," superintendent John Currie said. "That is great news. We also see a time when enrollment in the district will start to grow again and not too distant in the future."

The Oct. 1 numbers are submitted to the Department of Education and help determine the amount of funding the district receives from the state. The totals are also used by the district to finalize the budget and are the basis for enrollment projections for the following year.

The enrollment is 81 students higher than the projections determined last November. The largest class this year is the graduating seniors with 2,258 seniors in the district.

"In the past, there has been a conservative adjustment to enrollment projections in order that we would be conservative in our budget amounts," said Kim Reis, student information supervisor, who presented the report to the school board. "This year, we decided not to do that. Looking back at projections and corrections and adjustments, we decided we didn't need to do that.

"We are very comfortable with the model we are using for our projections."

A committee uses two different models to determine projections, but the economic troubles might lead to a slight tweaking of the projections.

"The committee decides which assumptions they want to go with," Reis said. "Sometimes they adjust from year-to-year. With the housing marking the way it is, I am sure we will have to take that into account this year. As a committee, we look to see which model will give us the best results."

The student information department also produces a racial demographic report. This year, students of color represent 21.6 percent of the total enrollment, up 1.4 percent from last year and nearly double the numbers from 10 years ago.

With the stability in the district, budget numbers are distributed appropriately.

"In years gone by, we would get the enrollment projections and we would take and apply a conservative factor that would reduce those slightly so that we didn't distribute more dollars to a building than students might show up," Currie said. "We guaranteed 98 percent of those numbers. One of the changes we made recently, we do our absolute best at those numbers and don't doctor them at all. We tell the site leaders to plan accordingly. It is working well this year."

Middle school awarded grant

Rosemount Middle School, along with Thomas Lake Elementary, was awarded a 2008 Steps of Hope Support grant from the Autism Society of Minnesota.

Each of the two schools received a $1,000 grant from the organization.

With the funds, Rosemount Middle School will create a sensory room in existing space.

District taking a look at curriculum

As part of a yearly look at curriculum in the district, this year's review will include a look at K-12 mathematics, K-12 physical education and K-5 performing arts.

Last year, the district reviewed world languages, visual arts and media literacy.