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Final Richmond County enrollment climbs

End-of-year enrollment sees first jump in years

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For the first time in four years, end-of-year enrollment for Richmond County schools has increased from the previous year, according to recently released numbers.

Ending enrollment was 32,223 for pre-kindergarten through 12th grade -- 120 more than at the end of 2008-09. Final totals had been declining over recent years.

Increased enrollment doesn't necessarily mean more state funding. That's because the full-time equivalent, or FTE, student count that determines a system's funding puts greater weight on certain categories of students, including those labeled special needs.

"Technically, you could have more kids and get less funding," school system spokesman Louis Svehla said.

School officials say they won't know their FTE count for last school year until later this month.

"Exactly when the earnings sheet will be distributed is an unknown," said Anita Faglier, the school system's director of finance and accounting.

Officials say higher enrollment next year would only add to class sizes. Plans call for 35 teaching positions to be slashed through attrition in an effort to save money amid continued state funding cuts.

"The question is: What's going to show up at the doors this (coming school) year?" Superintendent Dana Bedden asked at a recent budget hearing. "That's a wild card that we are uncertain about."

The system has projected a starting fall enrollment of 31,250 K-12 students, a figure it based the number of teacher contracts on. Add to that about 1,200 pre-K students, and the total would be 32,450 -- about 220 more than the past year's final total and about 1,500 more than what the system started with in 2009-10.

Bedden recently said there has been speculation that enrollment might be increasing at the expense of private schools.

"I would agree that probably the horrendous downturn in our economy has undoubtedly influenced some parents," said John Bartlett, the headmaster for Augusta Christian Schools.

However, "I think we are holding our own well," he said.

Jack Hall, the head of school at Augusta Preparatory Day School, said enrollment was at an all-time high in 2008-09 but declined by 3.1 percent this year.

"The decline was almost exclusively felt in the preschool and Pre-K classes, mirroring a trend nationally in independent schools," he said in an e-mail. "Our enrollment in K through 12 was actually up."

The reason for a drop in preschool and pre-K?

"With the downturn in the economy, it would appear that younger couples with younger children are not as likely to pay for independent school tuition," Hall said.

Erin Lively Kirchhoff, the director of marketing and communications at Westminster Schools of Augusta, said she has seen enrollment grow.

"We are at a record 94 percent retention rate with our students," she said. "We saw an increase in our enrollment year over year for the 2009-10 school year, and we received 11 additional students throughout the school year."

She said enrollment for the coming school year "is actually ahead of where we were at this time last year, and we expect to continue gaining students throughout the summer."

On Tuesday, she said, "we already had 35 more students enrolled than we had at this time last year, and we have waiting lists for two grades."

School enrollment

2009-10: start 30,942, end 32,223

2008-09: start 32,042, end 32,103

2007-08: start  31,928, end 32,296

2006-07: start 32,555, end 32,487

Source: Richmond County school system

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disssman
6
Points
disssman 06/07/10 - 08:26 am
0
0
Not surprising. Exactly why

Not surprising. Exactly why parents should be forced to declare if their kids will be attending public or private school. The ability of parents to jump and run, at their whim, could devastate the public system in the areas of employees, facilities, equipment and supplies. Why should parents be able to come in after plans for the year are made and say " we just can't afford private school anymore and our problem is your problem?.

Trey Enfantay
9
Points
Trey Enfantay 06/07/10 - 08:40 am
0
0
dissman - Because we don't

dissman - Because we don't live (quite yet) under a despot dictator with totalitarian rule to control EVERY facet of our lives as much as you kook-aid drinkers are trying to get it that way..... Freedom and choice doncha know....

RoadkiII
6839
Points
RoadkiII 06/07/10 - 09:02 am
0
0
OOPS, double posted

OOPS, double posted

RoadkiII
6839
Points
RoadkiII 06/07/10 - 08:55 am
0
0
Memo to the Secretary of

Memo to the Secretary of Defense. Please end all PCS moves to or from Ft. Gordon. The local school system can not handle the change in the number of students during the school year. We are truly sorry that our school system is in such a lousy state of affairs.

OIC
27
Points
OIC 06/07/10 - 03:06 pm
0
0
Property taxes are still paid

Property taxes are still paid by home owners that send their children to private schools.

augusta citizen
10700
Points
augusta citizen 10/19/12 - 10:52 am
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..

..

corgimom
46795
Points
corgimom 06/07/10 - 10:09 pm
0
0
"Why should parents be able

"Why should parents be able to come in after plans for the year are made and say " we just can't afford private school anymore and our problem is your problem?"

Because children have a Constitutional right to a free public education.

Trey Enfantay
9
Points
Trey Enfantay 06/07/10 - 10:49 pm
0
0
corgi - That is BS and you

corgi - That is BS and you know it.

RTFLAIR
0
Points
RTFLAIR 07/29/10 - 01:25 pm
0
0
I keep hearing great things

I keep hearing great things about Westminster. Interesting that they are growing when the other schools are shrinking. I wonder why?

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