Declining enrollment adds to deficit woes at Perry-Lecompton
by Clarke Davis
USD 343 will have less money to operate on next year like every school district, but a declining enrollment will make it even more difficult.
Superintendent Denis Yoder sees a shortfall in revenue of $109,000 this year and $230,000 in next year’s budget that begins July 1.
“We will graduate a class of 95 seniors in May and we have only 50 kindergarten pupils to replace them,” Yoder said.
He doesn’t expect the kindergarten class this fall to be any larger. State revenue to finance schools is based on student population.
Yoder doesn’t have a cyrstal ball to know exactly what the revenue figures will be, but going on past history he’s betting on the governor’s message and that’s what he’s planning on.
He said this year’s shortfall will be covered, but next year’s will require a reduction in staff.
“All the easy cuts have been made over the past three years,” he said.
As teachers and administrators retire or leave, they will not be replaced.
Where there were once four sections of each grade from kindergarten to fourth, two of those classes now have three sections and the other two classes will be reduced to three next year. Class sizes will be increased. Yoder thinks 22 students in one section will be the most.
One administrator position has been eliminated. Where there was an assistant principal for each the high school and middle school, one person now shares those responsibilities for both schools.
There may also be a reduction in classified staff.
“We are looking at everything,” he said.
Yoder equated running a school today to that of keeping an airplane in the air by continually having to throw something off to keep it airborne.
Going into next year, the Perry-Lecompton district will be operating with an estimated $2 million less than three years ago.
“We’ll deal with it,” Yoder said.
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