Eastern Pulaski Schools Experience Dip in Students and Funding

 The Eastern Pulaski School Board is set to adopt a budget for 2017 at their October meeting. They conducted the statutory public hearing on the proposed spending plan when they met Monday. Superintendent Dan Foster says there aren’t any significant changes but notes enrollment is down slightly at Eastern Pulaski this year.

State funding is tied to enrollment, so the decline of 17 students is costing the corporation about $90,000, according to Foster. He says Eastern Pulaski has been fortunate the past few years to not see a drop in students.

The corporation will try to absorb the funding loss this year and also plan for a similar reduction in enrollment next year.

Foster says tying revenue fluctuations to enrollment puts schools in a bind.

“We don’t shut off a classroom, we don’t get rid of a teacher, we can’t turn back thermostats and shut off lights and all kinds of stuff in certain areas because we lost 17 students. Our overhead does not change, and it’s a difficult situation. I hate schools being in this position. It really is difficult.”

Foster adds the drop in enrollment is due to several factors.

“The easy finger to point is kindergarten. Last year we had 117, and this year we have 97. That’s the easy one to go to and say, ‘well, there’s your problem,’ but it really isn’t because our graduating class versus our incoming. And then we still certainly have more transfers in than out, but we do lose students to other schools as well.”

Foster says the middle school, for instance, has the largest and smallest classes in the corporation right now, with 116 7th graders and 70 8th graders. He says fluctuations like that make it difficult to allocate resources from year to year.