White Hall School District takes on enrollment challenge

The White Hall School District saw its enrollment decline by 23 students between 2012-13 and 2013-14, resulting in a loss of $150,000 in anticipated state funding.

White Hall enrolled an average of 2,983 students in 2012-2013, and 2,960 students in 2013-2014 based on average attendance of the first three quarters of the school years, Superintendent Larry Smith said. The state looks at the average daily enrollment of the school year’s first three-quarters to determine its funding for the next academic year.

The state provided $6,392 per student in 2013-2014 and $6,521 per student for 2014-2015, Smith said. The loss of 23 students translated to a decrease of about $150,000 in state money, Smith said. But the state provided about $69,000 in a declining enrollment fund to soften the adjustment, he said.

“Think of it as a grace period that gives us time to adjust,” Smith said. “It cushions the blow. It is hard for districts to make those kind of cuts from one year to the next. This year if we are up a few students, we would not get any declining enrollment funding.”

White Hall will not have an accurate number of current student enrollment until next week, to fix discrepancies between registered students versus actual attendance, he said. For a point of comparison, the state provided $12,562,522 in 2013-2014 and $12,666,201 in 2014-2015, Smith said. While this is a net gain of about $104,000, it reflects the cost of living increase per student, Smith said.

White Hall expects to have a budget between $24 million and $25 million, Smith said. Despite the decline in funding, the White Hall school board hired three new teachers for the current academic year to handle an influx of first graders.

“We did not cut any teaching positions this year,” Smith said. “We added back three teachers to deal with the large number of first grade students. I think it was a wise decision by the school board.”

To provide for the three new teachers, “there were not huge cuts from any particular program,” Smith said. “We try to budget conservatively. We over-estimate our expenses and under-estimate our revenues.”