"High Achievement always takes place in the framework of high expectation." - Charles Kettering

Friday, October 28, 2011

Despite Flat Edgerton Enrollment after 4K Program, Milton Forges Ahead

Click on the post to see the article in the Gazette a few weeks ago covering Milton's entry into the 4K arena to boost their dwindling enrollment. Oddly enough, they used the Edgerton 4K enrollment data as an argument FOR going forward. Edgerton numbers uniquely match Evansville in enrollment, so this seemed like a perfect place to begin to investigate recent remarks by board member Eric Busse that 4K enrollment always increases from the initial enrollment value. Because, yes. you guessed it, it was on the agenda to address at the September Board meeting as a follow up to the Spring meetings addressing it. Nobody in their right mind expected anything to actually result from this, except a perfunctory, "No, we are currently about 700 thousand dollars in the red and cannot afford to introduce 4K at this time." But dutiful board members noted that they want a full analysis for 4K, including start-up costs and expected time to recoup the investment. That's when Mr. Busse chimed in about enrollment due to 4K.

Well, apparently he didn't have access to the Edgerton data. If you look at the charts and correct for early childhood enrollment figures, Edgerton enrollment due to 4K was 101, 106, 65, 98, 96 and 115 from 2006 to 2011. The AVERAGE value (96.5) does not exceed the initial value. More importantly, the rate of enrollment loss has remained relatively consistent comparing 01-05 (-96) with 06-11 (-87). They're still bleeding enrollment, just started at a higher value. This still translates to loss in funding. Until the reasons for the enrollment loss are fully explored, and remedied where possible, all the 4K, 3K and every other scheme to increase enrollment will never, ever solve the problem. This is the message to take from Edgerton, not implementing some hairbrained scheme that doesn't do what it is touted to do.

Solving the problem using superficial means is simply easier. They don't have to mix with the great masses and admit that maybe, just maybe, we need to do a better job of attracting and keeping students in our district. No more excuses for not knowing the reason why EVERY SINGLE KID left the district. It shouldn't be acceptable to simply gather anecdotal evidence. The school board just financed the district's inability to live within their means to the tune of nearly 700K out of the fund balance. At the very least, they deserve to know why 24 more kids enrolled out than in. Then they can formulate a plan to minimize this number. That's my rant for the day.

Budget discussions are in my Review articles. I was the only journalist present at the annual meeting and the meetings leading up to the annual meeting. If you read conflicting data from other sources regarding the budget, call me or drop me a line. I will try to help you understand. I am pretty conversant with the district budget.