Archive for Thursday, September 28, 2006

District reports enrollment up by 7.8 percent

September 28, 2006

De Soto USD 232 is in its seventh straight year of experiencing student population growth of 300 to 400 students.

District operations and planning director Jack Deyoe said this year's increase of 403 students was close to the district's projections.

On this year's official enrollment count day on Sept. 20, the district reported 5,541 kindergarten through 12th-grade students are attending district schools this year. That compares to last year's 5,138 students.

The numbers are headcount, or actual numbers of students in each building, and not the number of full-time equivalency students, or FTE. The FTE is used by the state to determine how much funding each school district will receive.

Deyoe said the district had experienced growth of more than 100 students a year since 1996. The growth, he said, followed by about three years the completion of the Mill Creek wastewater plant in west Shawnee.

The district is in the final stages of completing projects paid for by the 2002 bond issue, with Mill Creek Middle School in Lenexa and an elementary school at 71st and Chouteau streets in Shawnee slated to open in August 2007. Boundaries for both schools have not yet been determined. The district is also seeking funds from a 2006 bond issue to expand its facility space, which will be voted on this November.

"We're very fortunate we still have the 2002 bond issue (new buildings) next year," Deyoe said. "(Growth) will be right on top of us in a year since it takes about two to three years to plan a building."

New students appear throughout the year, not just the beginning of the school year, Deyoe said. That means the district has to cope with hundreds of new students who enroll after Sept. 20 without additional state funding until the following year.

The FTE for De Soto schools is 5,235.5, about 408.5 students more than last year's 4,917. The FTE is typically slightly smaller than the headcount numberbecause kindergarten, early childhood education and part-time students are counted as .5 a student. That means the district only gets half-funded for those students.

The base-state-aid per pupil is $4,316 this year, but districts receive more weighting for special needs or at-risk students. The De Soto district also receives weighting for extraordinary growth. Because they're only counted as half-students, the district receives about $2,158 for a non-special needs kindergarten student.

Most districts, however, count the whole number of students to determine their headcounts. Both numbers will be officially audited by the state later in the school year.

De Soto High School had a headcount of 494 students, 24 more than last year. Lexington Trails Middle School reported 484, an increase of two students; Mize Elementary School reported 595 students, an increase of 76 students; and Starside Elementary School reported 510 students; an increase of 28 students.

Deyoe said growth on the west side of the district continued to be modest compared to the east side. That could change with the completion of the city of De Soto's new sewer plant in 2007.

"Starside is already near capacity," he said. "We are pretty positive a new elementary will need to be available soon on the west side."

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