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School Enrollment Stabilizes But Remains Below Last Year’s, With Decreases Projected

| December 4, 2013

enrollment-1999-2013

There’s good and bad in the latest school enrollment numbers—the numbers that define how much state dollars are distributed to Flagler County to support the local district, and how many teachers and other employees are hired, or fired.

With more than 1,700 employees, the district is by far the largest employer in the county. (Florida Hospital Flagler is second, with about 1,000 employees.) So job gains or losses in the district can have a considerable ripple effect in the local economy.

Every student gets a state aid allocation of $6,316.55. A loss or a gain of 160 students translates into a positive or negative $1 million hit on the economy. Short of updated census data, the school district’s population is also the most accurate gauge of the county’s demographics, reflecting either growth or decline in what tends to be the non-retired segment of the local population: working-age families with children. Those numbers have been declining since the Great Recession. The decline is echoed by the latest labor force data, which in November shows a 4 percent decrease in comparison with November 2012.

As of the end of November, the district had 12,794 students. The good news is that the district saw enrollment rise for the past two months, albeit by very small numbers. It rose by 25 in November, and by 19 in October, not enough to overcome a loss of 85 in September.

“For the first time in a while we feel like we’ve stabilized a little bit,” Acting Superintendent Jacob Oliva said, “and we’re seeing a little trend in growth, and we think after the holidays, if we can maintain that enrollment—because that’s when we’ve seen a decline in years past—that will be kind of a benchmark for us.”

District Finance Director Tom Tant presented the numbers to the Flagler County School Board Tuesday evening. In another bit of better news, he said the November figure represents an increase of about 144 students from last May. But comparing May to November is not as accurate as comparing November to November, because enrollment almost always falls after January. When compared to November 2012 figures, the district sees a loss of 110 students.

“If we can just hang in there and keep the slope going green, I think we’ll see some improvements for this year,” Tant said. “But we do have some challenges.”


And that’s where the not-so good news begins. First, the Legislature has reformulated what each student is worth in terms of state dollars. Previously, a student who took six courses at a local high school and two courses at Daytona State College, as part of the student’s dual-enrollment program, the district was reimbursed for all eight courses. Not anymore. The district will now be reimbursed only for six-eighth of that enrollment. “even though we have them counted as fully enrolled in our schools,” Tant said. “That’s something new to the school district and something new to the state of Florida.”

Then there’s the other bad news: “We always lose 1 to 2 percent between October and February,” Tant said. That’s the equivalent of 100 to 200 students. The loss takes place in high schools, after students get their mid-semester grades in January. “There are times when students finish and they want to enter the workforce or pursue other options,” Oliva said. The district encourages students to stay enrolled, and at least do dual enrollment, but even then, it wouldn’t help with district finances given the new state formula.

The district has been hiring teachers even though the numbers haven’t changed much, but that’s been due mostly to resignations and retirements, Oliva said, with new positions only in exceptional student education.

Flagler County School Enrollment, 2011-2014

Enrollment at End of May 2011First-Day Enrollment, August 2011Certified Enrollment, Feb. 2012Enrollment at End of May, 2013Enrollment at end of May 2014Enrollment on Sept. 15, 2014
Belle Terre Elementary150414241400135713431329 (-14)
Buddy Taylor Middle10081013980100610331002 (-31)
Bunnell Elementary130612241228129012811235 (-46)
Flagler-Palm Coast High215524852338224723062442 (+136)
Imagine at Town Center520809815867896906 (+10)
Indian Trails Middle892914875806869909 (+40)
Matanzas High148516061587156615761606 (+30)
Old Kings Elementary114211421134113111111106 (-5)
Palm Harbor Academy92101112666366 (+3)
Pathways885534ClosedClosedClosed
Phoenix Academy667268657971 (-8)
Rymfire Elementary137912981317130712681172 (-96)
Wadsworth Elementary931860862879901871 (-30)
Note: the numbers will fluctuate throughout the year, especially in the first few weeks and the last few weeks of the school year. Source: Tom Tant, finance director, Flagler County School District.
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3 Responses for “School Enrollment Stabilizes But Remains Below Last Year’s, With Decreases Projected”

  1. Lonewolf says:

    Obviously, what we need to do is TAX people more !!

  2. karma says:

    Then there’s the other bad news: “We always lose 1 to 2 percent between October and February,” Tant said. That’s the equivalent of 100 to 200 students. The loss takes place in high schools, after students get their mid-semester grades in January. “There are times when students finish and they want to enter the workforce or pursue other options,” Oliva said.

    Oh, I though this was where students are “encouraged” to drop out so that funding tied to school graduation numbers is not affected. Because by the time January rolls around, the district has already received state funding for all of its students.

    Sorry, Mr Oliva but students cannot finish high school without graduating, That’s why they’re called “high school dropouts.” However, if they stay in school but do not meet graduation requirements and therefore cannot graduate, schools/districts are penalized by reduced funding or aid dollars. And if you’re willing to fudge results and spend above and beyond on school athletes then you should do same for ALL students. I guarantee these ordinary students will not need to have their scores fudged with the extra help, and they will turn out better individuals than the violence prone, bullying, narcissistic dumb jocks being spoon fed academics that they are still unable to comprehend – these “Incognitos” could care less about their true selves being incognito. They are quite proud of their identity to want to conceal it.

    Also, if “Every student gets a state aid allocation of $6,316.55” from the state, how much does each student get from Flagler through the collection of property and sales tax? What would be the total per pupil dollar amount?

    I think we need to search outside the district for a new superintendent. This possibility is already following the old trend. Not good for our students, at all.

  3. I/M/O says:

    Should the 2010 census figures not be factored into planning for the future of the schools. The 2010 census showed 5.4% of the Palm coast residents were under 5 years of age. 4651 children soon to be entering the school system. That would not include children born between June 2010 and today.

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