Federal Hocking Local Schools Sees Gains In Enrollment

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After losing about 40 students per year for the past decade, Federal Hocking Local Schools’ enrollment projections suggest the losses may be leveling off.

“This relative stability will allow for more stable planning given state funding rests on student enrollment,” states the enrollment report presented to the board on Tuesday.

That said, smaller classes will likely result in the district cutting one teacher position in the secondary school next year and another position during the 2015-2016 school year. Supt. George Wood said he expects to make those cuts through retirements.

This year, the district has 94 kindergarteners, up from 78 last year. Wood attributes part of that growth to the district’s Welcome Wagon program, which was implemented in 2012. The program targets children from birth to age 4 who live in the district. The goals are to improve early literacy and boost enrollment within the district.

Enrollment numbers in grades 5, 6 and 7 are on the low end, something the district anticipated. Many of those students were lost in open enrollment between 2008 and 2010, when the district faced financial issues and threats of school closures loomed, Wood explained.

“This demonstrates what happens when you talk about closing schools,” Wood said.

The district projected 139 enrolled in the middle school this year, just slightly over the actual number of 135. The smallest class is in the seventh grade with 65 students, down from last year’s 83.

The high school experienced the largest drop, when comparing a school’s actual numbers to projected. The district projected 321 high schoolers; the district actually has 302. Those drops are due to a number of factors, like students who are credit deficient dropping out and students leaving through open enrollment.

The number of students lost due to open enrollment, when students who live in the district opt to attend another school, has shrunk. The net loss peaked during the 2009-2010 school year when 250 students left the district and 57 entered. This year, 206 students left the district — the lowest in eight years — while 73 students entered.