2018-10-11 / Front Page

Leland grows, other schools lag

County count falls below 1,800
By Amy Hubbell
Of The Enterprise staff

For every action, there is an equal reaction.

That law of physics also applies to county demographics and the number of children attending county schools.

Last Wednesday’s fourth Wednesday count shows a continued decline in the number of students going to school in the county, falling below the 1,800-mark for the first time in recent history.

At the same time, Leelanau County’s senior population has grown a percentage point every year since 2014.

Leland Public School is the only district in the county reporting more students in classrooms than it had last year — for the fourth year in a row. The district is embarking on a renovation project that will also add classroom space.

“Every space available is completely tapped,” Leland superintendent Jason Stowe said.

Leland’s on-campus headcount last Wednesday was 522, up from 512 last fall, setting a new record.

The jump of 10 students was expected, Stowe said, and it came without a cap on School of Choice students in Leland’s third and fourth grade levels. About 40 percent of Leland’s student body is comprised of School of Choice families.

“It helps with sustainability through the years,” Stowe said. “It’s a positive trend.”

Students in grades K-6, number 289, pushing the school’s elementary classrooms to the max, increasing anticipation for construction of a new elementary school at Leland, approved by voters earlier this year.

“The classrooms in our oldest part of the building are smaller. Our new rooms will be bigger and the hallways wider,” Stowe said.

Leland’s FTE (full time equivalent) is 566 students and include 44 students from Lake Leelanau St. Mary who receive a boost in state aid by providing teachers for non-core areas such as Spanish.

Suttons Bay, Glen Lake and Northport saw drops in their number of students on campus. However, Suttons Bay had a net increase of 50 students, thanks to a double-digit increase in virtual enrollment.

Suttons Bay had 434 students in classrooms last October. This year, the students on-campus fell to 425.

However, students receiving online instruction from Suttons Bay increased by 63 “seats” this fall to 215.

“This translates into approximately $350,000 in additional revenue for the district, “ Suttons Bay superintendent Mike Carmean said.

The twice-yearly headcounts determine the total per pupil foundation allowance coming into the coffers at Leland and Suttons Bay.

Glen Lake, the county’s largest school district in terms of enrollment, and Northport, the smallest in the county are both out-of-formula districts. This means that the property tax value of each district generates more revenue than the schools would receive in foundation allowance from the state.

Glen Lake’s tally of 660 includes 313 pupils in Young 5’s through sixth grade; 102 in grades 7 and 8 and 245 in grades 9-12.

This is 39 fewer than this time last year; 57 fewer than 2016 and 76 fewer than 2015.

These numbers correlate with the Glen Lake Board of Education’s decision to close School of Choice enrollment and serve just those families with younger siblings expecting to enroll in future years.

Northport’s total enrollment of 141 is more than four times smaller than Glen Lake’s.

Northport’s Class of 2018 numbered 17, more than four times more than the 2017 graduating class of four.

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