2018-08-30 / Front Page

Leland the exception with more kids

Inside: Back to school Diversions
By Amy Hubbell
Of The Enterprise staff

The number of students attending Leelanau County’s four public schools continues to fall with just one school expecting an increase in students when classes resume Tuesday.

The biggest drop is expected at Glen Lake, while Leland is anticipating another increase.

Some 654 students are enrolled at Glen Lake for the 2018-19 school year, down 82 from last year. But that’s just 62 fewer than the headcount when the school year began in 2016.

Some 213 students are enrolled in grades K-6; 98 in grades 7 and 8 and 244 in grades 9-12.

Northport, the smallest school on the peninsula is expected to hold its own with numbers in the upper 140s, according to superintendent Neil Wetherbee.

“We don’t anticipate much of a change,” he said.

A preliminary count at Northport reported 152 and 153 for the past two years, respectively.

“We have a small second grade class of six and a first grade class of 11 so we’re doing a 1/2 split this year,” he said.

Leland Public School Superintendent Jason Stowe estimates that 521 kids will report to class next week, up from 514 last year and an increase of 36 from this time in 2016.

“We’re looking at a handful more than we had last year,” he said.

Voters in the district in August approved a $26.4 million bond to fund a near-complete makeover at the school. Work is expected to begin in the spring.

Unlike Northport, which is an out-of-formula district, Leland and Suttons Bay rely on a per pupil foundation allowance for funding.

Revenue to the districts increase with each student counted, making a student count key to the districts’ bottom-lines.

Suttons Bay also receives a per student allowance for virtual students — those who receive online instruction. That has bolstered enrollment for the district that dropped from more than 1,000 in the past two decades to less than half that amount today.

“We are enrolling many virtual kids and we know of other K-12 parents who have called, but still need to register,” Suttons Bay superintendent Mike Carmean said. “I hesitate to estimate. My best guess at this point is 400 k12 and 150 virtual.”

The number of students taking classes on the Suttons Bay campus should be finalized well before a virtual enrollment figure is reached. Online students usually continue to register after the first official day of school.

The first-day count at Suttons Bay was 450 in 2016 and 407 last year.

Enrollment has been steady at Lake Leelanau St. Mary with 205 students. However, the number of high school students continues to increase, according to principal Megan Glynn.

At Montesorri School, which continues to be located on the Suttons Bay campus with work expected to begin soon at the Connie Binsfeld Resource Center, is anticipating 77 students.

An overview of expectations for schools in the county is provided in Diversions this week.

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