USD 457 enrollment numbers appear to be up




The student count for USD 457 appears to be up for the 2013-14 school year, according to unofficial numbers from the district.

According to USD 457 Superintendent Rick Atha, as of Thursday, the district's preliminary student count is up by 56 this year. The preliminary district-wide count is 7,658, compared to 7,602 last year, which makes it the fourth consecutive year that district enrollment has increased.

According to Roy Cessna, USD 457 public information coordinator, the official district-wide student count for 2011 was 7,638, and the official count for 2010 was 7,547.

Atha said that in years prior, enrollment had declined every year since 2000, after the December 2000 fire at the ConAgra beef processing plant.

"Garden City has never been at 8,000 students," he said, adding that the closest the district came was just prior to the loss of the packing plant, when the student count was between 7,800 and 7,900.

Atha said that while the numbers for the 2013-14 school year are unofficial numbers, they are usually accurate to within about 10 or 15 students and that official numbers will be released after they are audited in February.

State aid for school districts is distributed based upon a full-time equivalency formula. Atha said that most students count as 1.0 in the formula, but seniors who are not carrying a full course load, for example, are counted as less than 1.0.

"It would be the percentage of the time that they're at school," he said. "When the auditor comes in, there could be some kids who are maybe not full-time students, so they would count as a portion. That would reduce the full-time equivalency, so to speak."

District-wide FTE numbers determine how much state aid is allotted to the school district.

A portion of the district's budget comes from property taxes, but the bulk of it comes from the Kansas Department of Education's general state aid fund and other various funds.

Unofficial enrollment numbers counted on Sept. 20, which were given to the Kansas State High School Activities Association for purposes of determining classification, shows a student enrollment of 2,024 students at Garden City High School this year. The official student count was 2,059 last year.

Atha said the reason that there appears to be a decrease in those numbers is because last year, the total number of Alternative Educational Center students was included in the GCHS count.

"We count them separately now because the alternative school now stands as its own school," he said, adding that there are approximately 79 students currently enrolled there.

District-wide, Horace Good Middle School experienced the largest increase in preliminary enrollment numbers this year with 123 additional students, up from 651 to 774, while Kenneth Henderson's numbers have gone down by 64, from 468 to 404.

Atha said that is by design, because HGMS can house about 1,000 students, while KHMS can house about 450.

HGMS Principal Brad Springston said the additional students were expected due to the size of last year's sixth-grade class and the boundary changes that took place, so the staff at the school was prepared for the increase.

"Both the kids and teachers are adapting well and doing an excellent job so far," Springston said.

As elementary schools go, Jennie Wilson Elementary School has experienced one of the larger increases in enrollment so far this year, with a preliminary enrollment of 217 compared to last year's unofficial count of 194. Florence Wilson Elementary School also saw growth, going from a prelininary count of 347 last year to 367 this year. Victor Ornelas Elementary School experienced one of the larger decreases among elementary schools, going from 448 to 415, and Buffalo Jones Elementary School went from 332 to 310.

Both intermediate centers saw decreases as Bernadine Sitts went from 511 to 476 and Charles O. Stones went from 488 to 447.

District officials will wait on official counts before releasing overall district enrollment for the 2013-14 school year.

School breakdown

The district's preliminary student count for Sept. 20, 2012, and Sept. 20, 2013:

2012 2013

Alta Brown 383 374

Abe Hubert 315 310

Buffalo Jones 332 310

Edith Scheuerman 233 237

Florence Wilson 347 367

Garfield Early Childhood 413 431

Georgia Matthews 164 174

Gertrude Walker 291 278

Jennie Barker 132 133

Jennie Wilson 194 217

Plymell 138 146

Victor Ornelas 448 415

Bernadine Sitts 511 476

Charles O. Stones 488 447

Horace Good 651 774

Kenneth Henderson 468 404

Garden City High School 2031 2024

Alternative Center 39 75

Virtual school NA 57

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