ASD enrollment numbers down, could mean less funding from state

Published: Oct. 31, 2017 at 4:32 PM AKDT
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It’s a trend school districts across Alaska have seen for years, fewer students enrolled. But in the Anchorage School District, it’s a different trend -- one that’s greater than expected.

ASD projected enrollment would be down by 270 students this year, but with the final count in from last Friday that number more than doubled to 600.

“We work with professional demographers, we look at live birth rates, cohort survival rates, we do look at the economy and at housing and occupancy rates,” said ASD Superintendent, Dr. Deena Bishop.

Bottom line, Bishop says, ASD could take a hit financially. Since the estimate was off by about 330 students, Bishop says the district could lose anywhere between $500,000 and $3.5 million in state funding.

“It will probably be right in between,” Bishop said.

The state formula is based on things like school size, location and any extra student support needed.

Bishop believes the economy may have something to do with the drop in enrollment and experts agree.

“We are seeing a continued second year of recession, we’ve got about 2,900 less jobs so far this year than we had last year,” said Bill Popp, president and CEO of the Anchorage Economic Development Corporation. “It’s down just shy of 2 percent in job losses, our unemployment is up a little bit at 5.7.”

For now, the school district will continue to collect data and follow up with folks to find out where they went and why they left.

As for other school districts across the state, the Fairbanks-North Star Borough School District and the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District both report lower numbers as well but not by much. The Mat-Su Borough School District projected more students but fell short by about 150. Still, school officials there say enrollment is up from last year.

School districts have two weeks to certify final enrollment numbers before turning them in to the state for funding for Fiscal Year 2019.