Thursday, Oct. 04 2012 5:40PM
R-7 sees slight enrollment dip
Enrollment change is less than one half of 1 percent compared to last year
By Toriano Porter
Enrollment in the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District is down less than one half of 1 percent, but the slight dip is the first time in nearly in 22 years the district has not grown in terms of students.
Official figures reported to the state have the R-7 district with an enrollment of 17,534 K-12 students for academic year 2012-13, down just 83 students from the previous year.
Last school year the district enrollment was 17,617, an all-time high. The year before that enrollment was 17,500.
The district has seen a steady climb in numbers since 1990, when a reported 9,125 students were enrolled.
This year marks the first time since 1990 that district has not grown, but R-7 Superintendent David McGehee said the less than one half of 1 percent lack of growth is minuscule in terms of total enrollment.
“R-7 demographers believe the slight decrease is an anomaly based on ongoing new construction and other factors and that enrollment will increase in 2013-14 and future years,” McGehee said in an email to the Journal. “Our demographic consultant noted that the landscape looked very different this summer compared to a couple of years ago when there was evidence of many unoccupied homes.
“Existing homes have filled over the last 18 to 24 months and now we are starting to see more activity in the new construction of homes. It will take another 18 to 24 months before enrollment is impacted greatly by the housing construction occurring right now. The decrease this year is less than 1/2 of one percent and doesn’t project to require any adjustment to future school construction needs.”
The slight decrease does not affect the district’s finances in any way, McGehee said.
“Very little to none and well within the margin of conservatism that we build into our long-range financial planning,” McGehee said when asked about the affect. “The state aid formula uses the highest of your current enrollment or up to two years prior so there is really no decline in the number of students for which the district is being funded. With such a small number of students there is no real impact on the staffing needed so expenditures are not impacted.”
The district was able to hire additional staff this year and that helped improve student to teacher ratio from last year. The elementary student to teacher ratio is 23.4 for this year compared to 23.9 last year.
“Thanks to ongoing cost containment and solid fiscal management, the district is addressing several staffing needs this year, adding a total of 15.5 elementary teachers and three secondary teachers,” McGehee said. “District administrative staff worked closely with principals to identify the most pressing staffing needs based on class sizes and, in some cases, based on students with special needs.
“As a result of this thorough review, additional teachers were hired for 2012-13 at several schools. The number of elementary combination classrooms throughout the district has also been reduced to just one, down from a handful of combo classes during previous years. It is a welcomed change to be able to hire staff to address instructional needs and class sizes but we are far from what we would consider an optimal situation. Cost containment for this school year is $21 million and totals $70 million from 2008-09 through 2012-13.”