Enrollment down again in Carson City’s schools

Bonnie Benson's second-grade class at Fritsch Elementary School learn about graphing on Friday.

Bonnie Benson's second-grade class at Fritsch Elementary School learn about graphing on Friday.

Despite a slight increase in enrollment last year, the Carson City School District’s numbers dropped again this year, continuing a decade-long trend.

The district reported 7,531 students showed up for school Friday — the official count day for the state — down 104 from last year’s count.

“That’s a pretty big drop,” said Superintendent Richard Stokes. “It is bad news for us.”

In Nevada, schools receive funding, known as the per-pupil allotment, based on the number of students involved. The Carson City School District receives $6,231 per student.

“If you multiply that by 104 students, you’ve got about a $650,000 loss,” Stokes said. “That’s a big decrease.”

Although Nevada statute allows a “hold harmless” year, in which school districts receive funding based on the previous year’s enrollment after seeing a decline, Stokes said it will mean further cuts to an already-strained budget.

“We will have to adjust bases on our revenue for the coming year,” he said. “We will be checking all of the numbers again, and we’ll have to do more with less.”

The decrease follows a pattern of declining enrollment, which began in 2003 following years of growth of about 30 percent annually.

Enrollment was 7,635 last year, up slightly from 7,594 in 2011. In 2010, enrollment was 7,601. Since 2007, enrollment has dropped 643 students from the 8,174 enrolled in 2007.

“I really don’t have a reason,” Stokes said. “In winter of last year, economists were saying they were starting to see an uptick in growth in the state. But people are still looking for work. It’s an indication that our economy still is not very strong.”

The Carson City School Board approved a $59.87 million budget in June that drew $2.5 million from district reserves while cutting $1.7 million from district expenses. All elementary school counselors were cut, along with some teachers and other staffers.

“We’ll keep our fingers crossed that economic conditions improve and that more people return to Carson City,” Stokes said.


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