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Falling Enrollment Causing Financial Strain At Brown County Schools
Updated May 16, 2017 6:50 AM | Filed under: Education
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(NASHVILLE) - Since September 2015, Brown County Schools has lost 96 students to surrounding public school districts, private education options or homeschooling.

The reasons they leave include financial strain, moving, disciplinary problems, a desire for more programs in athletics or arts and general dissatisfaction, district leaders say.

The Brown County Democrat reports, regardless of why, continuously declining enrollment is hurting Brown County Schools with a nearly $1 million budget cut.

A reduction in enrollment means a reduction in the money public school districts receive for their general funds to serve their student population. Having 100 fewer students this year meant the district received about $585,000 less in tuition support from the state Department of Education, which allocates funding with a per-pupil model.

According to enrollment data, the district has dropped by 366 in the past decade, from 2,232 students in the 2007-08 school year to 1,866 in 2016-17. Next year, enrollment is expected to go down again, for a total of 1,845 students.

Reducing the number of paraprofessionals across the district, discontinuing the Alternative to Homebound Program and cutting back on overtime pay, which reached $92,218 between July 1 and March 30, are among the approved recommendations to address the funding shortfall.

Two special education teachers and a handful of paraprofessionals, are planning to leave the school system by the end of this year, and in order to to save money, the district will not replace them.

A team of about 20 teachers and staff is working on how to market Brown County Schools to current families as well as families who live outside the district.

The marketing plan is to focus on small class sizes; a strong focus on relationships; "world-class" opportunities like the national-title-winning Brown County Junior High School We the People program; and sports and arts programs that allow all students to participate are things the marketing team wants to highlight and boosting preschool and kindergarten enrollment.

Until the numbers increase the school board is evaluating every school job that opens to determine if it is feasible to fill it and are looking at other ways to boost the general fund.

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