School enrollment slide slows for most

SHIAWASSEE AREA — Seven area school districts are experiencing continuing declines in enrollment from the fall 2019 student count, according to preliminary numbers released this week.

Byron Area Schools, Laingsburg Community Schools, Morrice Area Schools, New Lothrop Area Public Schools, Perry Public Schools, Ovid-Elsie Area Schools and Owosso Public Schools each reported enrollment losses after the second Student Count Day of the 2019-20 academic year, which took place Wednesday.

Chesaning Union Schools and Corunna Public Schools, meanwhile, have experienced an increase in enrollment since the fall, while Durand Area Schools’ enrollment remained the same at 1,317 students.

Overall, the year-to-year trend among area school districts is relatively mixed, with four districts reporting enrollment increases from the 2019 spring count, among them Laingsburg Community Schools, which is up 56 students from February 2019, to a total of 1,154 students.

Chesaning Union Schools is up 22 students from a year ago, New Lothrop Area Public Schools has added 15 students and Morrice Area Schools has added one student.

Owosso Public Schools, however, has declined by 104 students from last spring, Perry Public schools has lost 63 students, and Byron Area Schools has dipped by 49.

Count Day is important for school districts because each student who shows up to school translates into state funding mandated through the State School Aid Act. According to the Michigan Department of Education (MDE), the Legislature bases 90 percent of school funding on the fall count. The remaining 10 percent of school funding is determined by the spring count.

Chesaning Union Schools reported the largest growth in enrollment from fall 2019 among area school districts, an increase of 13 students — from 1,437 to 1,450.

After losing 40 students between the spring 2019 and fall 2019 Count Days, Corunna Public Schools reported an increase of six students Wednesday, bringing overall enrollment to approximately 1,745 students, according to Superintendent John Fattal.

“We love the fact that our numbers are steady and trending in the right direction. That tells me that our students and parents are spreading a positive message about what is happening at Corunna Public Schools,” Fattal said via email. “We have an incredibly positive, upbeat community that continues to support our school district. Combine that with the most hard-working, caring staff around, and I’m not surprised about the numbers.”

Durand Area Schools held steady with 1,317 students, the same number reported for the district’s fall 2019 count, according to Superintendent Craig McCrumb.

In total, Durand is only down seven students from the spring 2019 count, McCrumb continued, which is a stark contrast from earlier projections that had the district losing approximately 33 students between the spring 2019 and fall 2019 counts.

“We’ve really got momentum as a district right now,” McCrumb said. “People are moving in, and I give a lot of credit to our teachers, their experience and the culture they’re creating in the district.”

Owosso Public Schools reported the largest enrollment decrease in the area, as the district lost 44 students from the fall — and 104 students from the spring 2019 count — cutting overall enrollment to 3,030, though Superintendent Andrea Tuttle indicated approximately 26 of those 44 students were seniors, many of whom graduated early from Owosso High School or Lincoln High School.

“Over the last 10 years, student enrollment county-wide has decreased by 20 percent,” Tuttle said via email. “Owosso Public Schools’ enrollment has fared better than the county trend with a decrease of only 12 percent. We certainly hope that families move into the area to experience all the opportunities Owosso Public Schools has to offer, including our outstanding academic and extracurricular opportunities as well as our modern learning facilities.”

Perry Public Schools saw a decrease of 17 students from last fall, bringing overall enrollment to 1,037. Byron Area Schools lost 15 students from fall’s count, dropping enrollment to 793 students.

Ovid-Elsie Area Schools also experienced a dip of 15 students, though 11 of those students were early graduates, according to Superintendent Ryan Cunningham.

“I’m happy that we are somewhat maintaining our enrollment,” Cunningham said. “We’d like to see it level off completely and eventually gain students, but we’re doing well financially and academically, so I can’t complain.”

Laingsburg Community Schools suffered a loss of seven students from the fall, as did Morrice Area Schools, though both are reporting an overall increase from spring 2019.

New Lothrop Area Public Schools saw a decrease of two students, though the district has increased overall enrollment by 15 students from last year’s spring count, according to Superintendent Anthony Berthiaume.

“We remain committed to providing the highest quality education to our students in and out of the classroom without reducing any programs,” Berthiaume said. “We are pleased to remain a school of choice district as an option for families.”

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