Decrease in students results in budget adjustment
100-Day count reveals loss of 120 students from last year
Enrollment changes occur each year and often are unknown when the district approves its budget in June. That’s why school districts adjust their budgets in December and May.
Dan Streeter, superintendent of the Humboldt Unified School District, said the school board monitors enrollment every 20 days to know how many students currently are attending district schools.
As other districts in the area are finding, enrollment is trending downward in the Humboldt district. HUSD has lost about 120 students this school year, similar to Chino Valley and Prescott districts, he said.
“We’re seeing more and more young families leaving the area. They’ve either gotten a job in another part of the state — most likely the metropolitan Phoenix area — or they are leaving the state altogether,” Streeter said.
The 100-Day count took place Jan. 17 across the state. This is when districts provide their Average Daily Membership (ADM) numbers to the state for funding requirements.
In December, HUSD Finance Director Cynthia Windham recommended a budget adjustment of $500,000.
“Cynthia Windham is one of the finest school financial directors in the state,” Streeter said. From the budget’s carry forward funds, the district uses enough carry forward money so any deficit caused by the current year’s ADM won’t be a jolt to the system, he said.
“You want a percentage of your budget for those changes,” he added.
This past year’s 100 Day ADM numbers were up from the year before, which worked to the district’s advantage.
Streeter said HUSD is not even close to looking at closing campuses or any reductions in force.
“We’ve always positioned ourselves where we can handle these situations,” he said. “Unfortunately, we’re getting pretty good at this.”
The decrease in student population numbers was across the district, not at any one school. Two schools showed an increase in student population: Liberty Traditional School and Glassford Hill Middle School. Streeter said GHMS’s iChoose Academy has attracted students.
“We have so many great conversations about what we’re doing for kids with great programs at the schools. Then you have to take a step back and have this kind of conversation,” he said.
At the beginning of each year, the district must balance its class sizes at each of the school sites, an effort called “rightsizing.”
The effects of local charter schools usually result in a tradeoff, Streeter added, where the district loses and gains students in an equal number throughout the year.
Looking ahead at the 2019-2020 school year, he said there probably would be about a $2 million reduction to the budget.