Archive for Thursday, September 27, 2007

USD 232’s official enrollment exceeds projections

September 27, 2007

Headcounts from De Soto USD 232 show that trends from previous years have continued.

Growth in the De Soto School District surpassed the district's expectations. Pre-K to 12th-grade headcount as of Sept. 20 placed district enrollment at 6,077 students, which was an increase of 394 students over last year or a 5.7 percent increase. Enrollment figures districts report to the state on that date are used to determine the amount of state per-pupil funding.

For the 2007-08 budget process, the district projected a K through 12 headcount of 5,905 students, or 102 fewer than were enrolled on the official reporting date.

Director of budget and finance director Ken Larsen said although the headcount is more than expected, the district's budget won't be affected much, if at all.

Larsen said he budgeted for 5,706 full-time equivalency students, and current FTE is 5,689.5. FTE is used by the state to determine how much funding each school district will receive. Regular full-time students are weighted at one. However, actual headcount and FTE often are different because kindergarten, early childhood education and part-time students are counted as half a student. Similarly, students in some special programs receive additional weighting.

The base-state-aid per pupil set by the Kansas Legislature for 2007-08 is $4,374.

Larsen said he tried to project FTE for the budget process based on what he experienced in previous years.

Challenges in the budgeting process come from determining how many staff members to hire in the summer months before more precise FTE numbers are available, Larsen said.

"We hire staff based on best estimate on how many kids we will have," he said. "We do the best we can off our estimates. If you come up with more kids, you have a last-minute flurry of trying to hire additional teachers."

Because the De Soto school district is rapidly growing, it is one of the few districts in the state that will receive extraordinary growth funding, Larsen said. This funding provides for one-quarter extra weighting for students enrolled in a new school. For example if 800 children were enrolled in new schools, a district would receive an extra weighting of 200. Larsen said the funding goes toward the costs of opening a new school, including hiring new teachers and purchasing supplies. The provision lasts for two years and since Larsen can remember, the De Soto School District has been eligible for extraordinary growth.

"It's not a windfall," Larsen said. "When you are opening new buildings, it's very costly."

This month, patrons in the district voted against two bond questions totaling $70.5 million that would have provided for additions and expansions, as well as artificial turf and new theaters.

The district has grown by 300-400 students each year, and although this year's growth fits into that range it was unexpected because of the slow housing market nationwide, Superintendent Sharon Zoellner, said.

"Handling the growth presents a challenge to our school district," she said. "There probably will need to be a separate work session for the board of education so that we can spend time on just that one topic."

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