Student population decline impacts Vigo County school funding


VIGO Co., Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — Enrollment in Vigo County Schools has dropped from 14,363 students to 14,190 students since last year.

The decline has created a loss of over $1.2 million in funding for the 2019-2020 school year.

“In 2008, I believe, our state made a change to fund our schools through a student count,” said Vigo County School Corporation Superintendent Rob Haworth.

The average daily membership count is conducted twice in a school year and determines the school corporation’s funding.

School officials say the drop is not a surprise, so they try to stay ahead.

“The trend of declining enrollment, districts have to prepare for that. And we had the foresight to do a demographic study in 2017 that I think as we’re creating our strategic plan, as we are contemplating a referendum, that’s exactly what we’re doing,” Haworth said.

The study predicts Vigo County Schools will lose over 600 students in the next 8 years, which could mean a loss of $32 million in funding. This would lead to larger budget cuts than had already been proposed should voters approve a referendum in November.

The referendum would increase property taxes to fund schools.

“I think we had been discussing $4 million worth of cuts and those probably increase now with this loss of enrollment,” said Haworth.

The upcoming referendum question on November’s ballot is one of the ways administrators say will help.

“The referendum is not the solution. The referendum is a bridge from where we are right now to where we hope to be in the next few years, realizing that we are shrinking,” Haworth said.

“Haworth said the cuts also create a possibility of losing schools and staff.

“Redistricting has come up, school closures has come up, the reduction of administrators has come up,” he said.

Overall, school officials said they’re doing their best to keep the loss in revenue from impacting classroom learning.

Superintendent Haworth said Vigo County’s virtual school has played a big part in their enrollment.

This year, there are 109 students in the progra m which brought in over $210,000 in funding.

Another average daily member count will happen on February 3. It will determine if there will be another drop in funding from January 2020 to June 2020.

The community is also advised to attend community meetings to express concerns and ideas to help with possible cuts in funding.

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