Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966

 
 

Mosquito Lake enrollment short

 


An official count of only nine students at Mosquito Lake School will reduce state funding for the Haines Borough School District and will prompt board discussions about the future of the school.

The district’s October enrollment counts are used for determining state funding of schools. The districtwide count of 271 students is considerably above last year’s projection of 253 students, and will bring more state funds than anticipated. Enrollment was 285 after the official count in October 2012.

The state reimburses the district $5,680 or more for each student in the official count.

But dropping below 10 students at Mosquito Lake could cost the district as much as $250,000 per year, money the district gets for maintaining a separate-site school. Such funding hinges on a minimum enrollment of 10 students.

Superintendent Michael Byer told the school board Nov. 19 that he believed Mosquito Lake site funding would be reduced in steps, through the state’s “hold harmless” provisions, which buffers the effect of enrollment losses.

“I think we’ll get about 80 percent of it,” district secretary Ashley Sage said this week. “We’ll get a reduced amount this year, but it won’t be $250,000, but in a couple years, the (buffer) will be gone. We’ll take a little hit (this year) but it’s not as bad as it could have been.”

Byer said he’d have more precise numbers about the Mosquito Lake cut at the Dec. 3 board meeting. school board president Anne Marie Palmieri said she expected continuing discussions about the future of the school, and wanted to see the “brick and mortar” costs of operating the school, which serves students in grades K-4. She pointed out that this year’s Mosquito Lake enrollment includes three fourth-graders.

Byer told the school board last week the district is projecting “a continued decrease in population, maybe even going into the 240s next year, which is something we’re going to have to plan for and have a contingency for.” He has previously pointed to a projected 2014 kindergarten enrollment of only 12 students.

“I hope for some turnaround. I hope we don’t drop that low. I don’t think any of us want to see that, but we need to be realistic in our appraisal and budget for it and hope for the best,” he said.

District secretary Sage said four more students have enrolled since the October count.

In other board news, the board recently elected Palmieri as chair. Sarah Swinton is vice-chair. Brenda Jones will serve as board secretary-treasurer.