By LAURA HAMMACK, guest columnist
It is amazing to realize that on the date of this publication, we have completed our first month of school.
The hallways of our school buildings are buzzing with learning activities during the school day and our school campuses are active long into the evenings with a variety of exciting extracurricular programming.
There are great things happening in Brown County Schools, and we are so thankful to our team of educators who deliver world-class experiences to our students on a daily basis.
With all of this positive energy taking place, we are disappointed to report that our student enrollment continues to show evidence of a downward trend. Currently, we have 1,900 K-through-12 students enrolled across the district with an additional 115 pre-K students attending at Helmsburg, Sprunica and Van Buren elementary schools.
In 2015, on the average daily membership “count day” in September, we had 1,978 K-12 students enrolled across the district with an additional 129 pre-K students.
It is discouraging to notice that we are down 78 students in grades K-12 and 14 students in pre-K.
Student enrollment is very important to a school district, as it directly affects the calculation of the funding formula that is created at the state level.
School districts receive general fund revenue based on several factors.
The first is the basic tuition support. These dollars are calculated using the total student enrollment for the district on the two “count days” that take place during a school year. The first takes place Sept. 16, and the second takes place Feb. 1. State basic tuition support dollars are allocated based on the number of students attending the district on those two dates.
Another factor that is considerable in the allocation of revenue to school districts is the “complexity index.” This index is a factor that is conferred upon the basic tuition support calculation in order to supplement students from poverty.
This calculation used to be based on the school district’s free and reduced-price lunch percentage. The calculation is now based on three factors: number of students who receive TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) benefits, number of students who receive SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits, and number of students who are living in foster care placements.
The percentage of students who qualify under the new complexity index is down as compared with the percentage of students who received free and reduced-priced lunches under the previous formula. Therefore, Brown County Schools will receive less financial support for our students from poverty this year.
With fewer students enrolled and less dollars received for our students from poverty, Brown County Schools is faced with a budgetary challenge to get the general fund into a healthy position.
The best way for us to solve our general fund problem is to enroll new students in our school district.
I intend to use this forum over the next few weeks to celebrate the very special activities and programming that make Brown County Schools the best choice for high-quality educational programming for young people.
We hope that our Brown County families who have chosen to send their children to schools outside of the district will reconsider the incredible services that are provided right here at home, and we hope to attract families from surrounding communities who are interested in engaging in world-class opportunities that prepare students for college and careers.
I look forward to the opportunity to share our successes over the next few issues.
For now, I would like to offer the opportunity for anyone who is interested in attending Brown County Schools to call our office right away and the superintendent will take you on a personal tour.
Laura Hammack is superintendent of Brown County schools. She can be reached at 812-988-6601 or firstname.lastname@example.org.