Culver School Officials Discuss Population Trends Behind Enrollment Declines

Culver Community School CorporationEarlier this month, the Culver Community Schools Corporation began the process of cutting teachers, due to a reduction in state funding and declining enrollment. Now, officials at Culver Schools are looking into some of the causes behind that enrollment drop.

After school board member Ryan Sieber noted at the previous school board meeting that schools around the state seem to be in similar situations of declining enrollment, Interim Superintendent Chuck Kitchell decided to do some research. During Monday’s school board meeting, Kitchell presented two articles containing information from Indiana University’s Indiana Business Research Center discussing population changes in Indiana’s counties.

The first one showed the change in their populations from 2014 to 2015, and Kitchell told the board things didn’t look good for Marshall County, “Unfortunately, in that time span, 2014 to 2015, Marshall County showed a decline in population. We’re not alone. There are 54 counties in the state of Indiana that showed a decline in population over ’14 to ’15, and there aren’t very many counties that are showing an increase. But if you see the bright red, there are seven counties in the State of Indiana that are showing more than a one-percent growth in that time, and needless to say, a lot of those counties are down around Indianapolis.”

However, another piece of research from the Indiana Business Center predicts things may turn around in the future. “They’re projecting a change in population from 2010 to 2050, so they’re a little bit longer timeline, but they show Marshall County increasing, up to 10-percent growth in that time span,” he said. “So long-term, it looks like maybe there’s some hope for Marshall County and some of our surrounding counties, as far as growth in the county.”

In the meantime, though, the Culver Community Schools Corporation has said it has to address a $250,000 reduction in General Fund support from the state. To do that, it’s in the process of cutting up to four teaching positions at the end of this school year.

School board member Mark Maes says it’s important that Culver continues to build support for its schools, “It’s like a circle. You lose kids, so then you lose teachers because you don’t have the kids. But then you lose teachers, and then you lose the kids because you don’t have the teachers. So it’s like, what are you going to do? And I think that the leadership of Mr. Kitchell and the administration in the schools, again, like we’ve all said and believe, you’re doing everything that you can. It’s a community thing. If you want to keep the community going, you’ve got to have the school.”

Maes cited a lack of apparent support for a property tax referendum in the Argos Community Schools district as an example of the challenges that school corporations need to overcome.