Enrollment decline will cost VCSC $1.4 million in funding

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TERRE HAUTE, Ind (WTWO/WAWV) — A decline in enrollment will cost Vigo County School Corporation more than $1.4 million in funding, according to Superintendent Dr. Robert Haworth.

Haworth announced the decline Thursday during his annual State of the Schools address, saying the school corporation’s enrollment has dipped below 14,000 for the first time ever.

In the second and final Average Daily Membership (ADM) count of the 2019-20 school year, Vigo County School Corporation was at 13,968 students, down from the fall count’s 14,190. The count, which will be used to determine state funding for January through June of 2020, occurred Monday.

Haworth explained that losing 222 students will cause Vigo County School Corporation to lose $1,445,220 in funding at a rate of $6,510 per student. He noted the fall count is typically higher than the spring count in Vigo County, and the corporation estimates the fall count in 2020-21 will be higher than Monday’s count.

“There is an ADM, dollar amount attached to every student that walks through our doors that we count. More students, more funding,” Haworth said.

Part of the enrollment decline is due to student migration: 121 students moved out of the state of Indiana since September, and 374 moved out of Vigo County. The district also tallied 49 early graduates in 2019-20, which contributes to the enrollment decline since fall.

“Population decline in Vigo County is the most significant challenge we face in our schools,” said Dr. Rob Haworth, superintendent of schools. “We must continue to look for new ways to raise revenue for our schools while right-sizing our district.”

According to Haworth the school corporation has seen a decline in more than 1,300 within the past 11 years. That total is enough to fill three elementary schools he said.

The school corporation commissioned a demographic study in December 2017, and the predictions from the study continue to be accurate. The study predicts that Vigo County School Corporation will lose an additional 636 students—and the state funding those students bring—in the next 8 years, as the population of Vigo County declines. At current funding levels, 636 students represent $4.14 million in yearly revenue.

The declining population has been addressed in recent consolidation discussions. Haworth Thursday unveiled eight potential new building concepts as highlighted below.

“Our goal is by summer time to narrow those eight down to four and then by December narrow those four down to one, and that can only be down through community meetings and feedback,” Haworth said.

School officials will attempt to place a capital referendum, separate from the operational referendum already in place, on the ballots in May of 2021 to pay for the projects.

Haworth says community meeting dates and location will be announced at a later time.

One bright spot for the corporation’s student count is Vigo Virtual Success Academy, the school corporation’s virtual school option. As of February 5, VVSA has enrolled 123 students, over 40 of which are new to Vigo County School Corporation’s enrollment count.

The first graduate of the program, Gracey Rollins, was a guest speaker during the State of the Schools address. She spoke about her experiences with the new program.

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