Early Numbers In: Will Schools Win or Lose?

By: Tony Tagliavia
By: Tony Tagliavia

Northwest Schools Superintendent Emily Kress and other school leaders in the Jackson County district could be facing a budget problem in the coming months.

Preliminary numbers show the district is down about 92 students. The district didn't plan on that loss, meaning that if the numbers hold, Northwest Schools could be out roughly $650,000 in funding.

It's the opposite in Jackson, where a district spokeswoman says it appears the district has kept roughly the same number of students as last year.

Jackson Public Schools administrators budgeted for a loss of students -- so if Jackson's numbers hold, they might get more money than the district planned to have.

As far as the reason for the loss in Northwest Schools, Kress says some students are moving not just out of her district -- but out of the state. Something the district can't really control.

You'll hear similar complaints from school officials in Lansing, where enrollment is also down. Still, Student Services Director Jim Davis says the loss is a bit smaller than in years past.

"It is down about 3.7 percent at the same time, it is very close to what we projected," Davis said.

That is, the district planned on losing students.

"I'd have to say we're pleased that our budget won't have immediate large impact if that budget holds," Davis said.

Iin East Lansing, the story is much the same: Steadily declining enrollment.

"The problem isn't really slowing down. It's pretty steady for declining enrollment. We're able to offset that with schools of choice," East Lansing schools Finance Director Pugh said.

But it's not enough to cover the bigger overall decline in enrollment, meaning 50 or 60 students this year, according to Pugh. He says the district just doesn't have enough school-age children.

Now Pugh, like his counterpart to the west, will be trying to use the numbers to try and reverse the declines.

"What and where are students are going to and coming from," Davis said.

Something districts will get a better grasp of in the next few months.


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