School numbers steady
Nearly 3,000 students will be tying up their new shoes, strapping on their backpacks and heading out the door next week as one of the busiest summers in Leelanau County comes to an end.
But rather than stocking up on gel pens, this no-ink-required generation of students will be using school-provided laptops and iPads to do their assignments. To read more on technology updates at all local schools, as well as new teachers, lunch prices and other updates, take a look at the Enterprise’s Diversions section.
In total, students numbers are estimated at 2,569, with the four public school districts expecting to educate an estimated 2,113 students, and private schools an estimated 373 students. Another 83 students will attend the Leelanau Montessori Public School Academy.
Those public school numbers are down 39 students from two years ago, when an estimated 2,152 students headed back to the four districts.
Expected enrollment is 709 for the beleaguered Suttons Bay district, which has lost many Schools of Choice students to neighboring districts. Superintendent Mike Murray is hoping the number pushes up to 725 students before school doors open.
Some 150, or more than 20 percent, are expected to be virtual students, leaving about 575 traditional brick and mortar students.
Two years ago the district had an estimated fall count of 730 actual students. Part of the difference can be explained through a switch of 80 or so students to the Suttons Bay Montesorri program, run through an independent school chartered by the district and housed on its campus.
The district’s budget is based on 760 students, a number that includes 35 ‘virtual’ students that were to come from Trinity Lutheran elementary school in Traverse City. However, the legal work didn’t go through in time so that program has been nixed for this fall.
Murray remains optimistic.
“A lot of people wait until the last minute to enroll,” Murray said. “We expect to see more families throughout the rest of the week.”
Because school budgets for the coming year must be in place by the end of June — when schools don’t yet know how many students they’ll have — they use a projected enrollment. For most districts across the state per-pupil funding, which is based on the number of students, is used to determine how much money a district will get. Administrators try to estimate their numbers conservatively to avoid budget shortfalls when actual counts are completed in September and February.
A handful of districts in Michigan are considered ‘out of formula,’ relying only on non-homestead property tax revenue for funding. Two are in Leelanau County — Glen Lake and Northport. The nonhomestead tax applies to businesses and second homes.
Projected enrollment for Glen Lake Community Schools is 805 students; in 2010 there were 806 estimated students. Superintendent Joan Groening said enrollment is stable in the district, which has even turned away some prospective students. The school building was constructed to hold about that many, she said.
In the Leland district 430 students are expected to show up for classes, which is about what the district had last fall, said Jason Stowe, superintendent. About 25 percent of those are Schools of Choice students, he said. Two years ago the district had projected an enrollment of 444 students.
“You never know what the number is going to be until they walk in the door,” Stowe said. “But we’re properly staffed and ready to go.”
And in the county’s northernmost district, which is also the smallest, Northport Public School is expecting to see 169 students, compared to 172 in 2010.
The Leelanau Montessori Public School Academy in Suttons Bay is expecting 83 students for its elementary program and 50 for its tuition-based preschool program. The school has two mixed-grade classrooms with students aged 6 to 9 and one made up of students 9 to 12 years old. A Montessori education, developed by Italian physician and educator Maria Montessori, emphasizes independence and freedom within limits, with a respect for the child’s psychological development.
In all, 373 students are expected to attend private schools in Leelanau County, with most of them attending St. Mary School in Lake Leelanau. The school has 194 students signed up this year, three more than a year ago. Just eight of those parochial students will be seniors, compared to 14 that graduated in 2012.
Another 109 students are expected at Pathfinder, about the same as last year, head of school Rob Hansen said. The private school located in Greilickville serves children from pre-kindergarten through 8th grade. The school’s philosophy emphasizes an understanding of various concepts through experience-based learning.
The Leelanau School in Glen Arbor has already welcomed this year’s student body, with numbers up about 15 percent from last year, according to Brian Chatterly, director of admissions. The school enrolls students throughout the year, with projected numbers at about 60 to 70 students. The boarding school specializes in teaching high school students who learn differently and may have dyslexia, attention deficit disorder or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.