Archive for Wednesday, August 9, 2000

Numbers from LOB, enrollment please district

August 9, 2000

Last week was a time to watch numbers for Baldwin School District Supt. James White. First there were the votes on the local option budget (LOB) on Tuesday and then enrollment numbers on Wednesday.

When it was all over, White was pleased with both sets of figures. The LOB question passed by a 532-469 count, which clears the way for the school board to raise the LOB from 12 percent to 25 percent. The full raise would mean an additional $750,000 to the district, but White says only 17 percent will be used this year.

Enrollment numbers aren't so black-and-white, but it appears that school officials were close in the expected gain in students.

"With early enrollment it looks like we'll be safe with our prediction of an additional 25 students," White said Monday.

It isn't easy to determine how many students there will be on the first day of school. There were more than 25 new students enroll district wide, but there's no way to know how many students from last year will be back. Many did not enroll Wednesday because of various reasons, such as the Douglas County Fair and vacations.

"Normally the principals and secretaries end up calling those people who didn't enroll," he said.

That process is currently under way and if most of those students end up back in the district, the enrollment increase will be more than 25.

"That would be even more pleasant news," said White, referring to the increase in state funding should enrollment jump.

There were a couple of other numbers that jumped out from enrollment, too. There will be the largest class of sixth graders ever at Baldwin Junior High School at around 125. That was expected. What wasn't known was what might happen at Vinland Elementary School where space was at issue last year. Vinland graduated its largest class of fifth graders, who contributed to the high number at BJHS.

"Vinland didn't have a deviation from what they expected," he said. "Mr. (Bill) Scott's numbers were just what they were supposed to be. That is good news."

There was also concern that there would have to be a shuffling of the staff to cover a grade or two where numbers would be high.

"We were concerned that we might see a great number of students hit in one grade, but apparently that hasn't happened," said White.

Of course the early numbers don't count for much, other than to give district personnel advance notice for possible changes. The "magic" date for audit purposes to determine state aid is Sept. 20.

As for the LOB vote, White was smiling.

"We're real happy about it," he said. "Of course whenever you have an election, you are pleased when the people support education."

While he knew the need for the LOB increase was there, he wasn't sure how it would be received by the voters. Also of concern was the placement of the issue on the primary ballot when voter turnout is traditionally low.

"I was concerned," he said. "I thought the timing might not have been good. I was afraid people weren't going to vote or were going to vote no. But, I was pleased in the end."

He also reiterated that the full 25 percent will not be used this year. Instead, the LOB will go up to 17 percent.

"That's where we're going to stay," said White. "The 17 percent this year has increased our mill levy more than I wanted. I wanted 10 mills, but it went up to 12 mills."

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