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School enrollment, funds dip

Officials say $183,454 shortfall will be covered by reserves

Posted: Wednesday, November 17, 2004

The Juneau School District will receive $183,454 less in state funding this school year than expected, though officials said reserves will cover the shortfall.

Juneau officially enrolled 5,305.48 students this school year. That's 43 students below what was projected and 122 fewer than last year, district officials said Tuesday. A few students are partly home-schooled and count toward the total in fractions.

State funding is based on the average number of students, expressed as full-time equivalents, who attended during the official count period of Sept. 27 to Oct. 22.

But school districts must set their budgets and their staffing about half a year before knowing exactly what the state funding will be. The district's operating budget this school year is about $43 million.

The state will give the district $183,454 less than what was budgeted, but the district's reserves will cover that, Superintendent Peggy Cowan said. The action leaves about $78,000 in reserve, she said.

The reduction in state funding won't affect the amount of city funding, Cowan said.

With state funding lower than budgeted, the city's maximum funding also is lower. But the city gave the schools about $34,000 less than the maximum anyway.

The high school enrollment, consisting of Juneau-Douglas High School and Yaakoosge Daakahidi alternative high school, is up 25 students from projections. The middle school enrollment is down 44 students. The elementary enrollment is up five students from projections.

The cyber and correspondence programs are down 30 students from projections. The cyber school reduction is due in part to the Montessori Adolescent Program leaving the Juneau cyber school and affiliating with another district.

The cyber school is a home-school program in which parents share in the state funding generated by students. Parents in the Montessori Adolescent Program, now in its second year, pool their state funds to run a Montessori adolescent classroom in rented space.

This year's official enrollment also is smaller than last school year's official enrollment.

The elementary schools are down about 72 students in total enrollment since last school year. The middle schools are down 74 students this year. The high schools (JDHS and Yaakoos) are up 44 students. The cyber and correspondence programs are down 30 students. The district also counted 10 more students this school year at the Johnson Youth Center, a state juvenile jail in Juneau.

• Eric Fry can be reached at eric.fry@juneauempire.com.



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