Truman enrollment drops

TRUMAN – Enrollment at Truman Public Schools shows a 19 percent decrease since last school year, a trend attributed to families moving, open enrollment, and fewer kindergarteners than graduating seniors.

As of Sept. 10, 199 students were enrolled, down from 245 last year.

“It is lower than we anticipated,” said Superintendent Tom Ames. “We face a significant challenge.”

Fourteen students moved out of the area; eight open enrolled to surrounding public school districts; four to private school districts; and four students returned to their home district. The district graduated 35 students last year.

Meanwhile, 15 students open enrolled from other districts, and 16 students entered the district in the kindergarten class.

With enrollment closely tied to funding at Minnesota schools, student loss equals funding loss.

While the district will generate fewer dollars through enrollment, it is still going before voters with a capital projects levy request Nov. 5.

The referendum asks for $125,000 per year for 10 years for a variety of projects, including upgrading playground equipment; replacing sidewalks; technology upgrades; gym ventilation; tuckpointing; roof and ceiling replacements; and maintaining mechanical systems.

If the referendum passes, the money it generates will be earmarked for the upgrades.

“We need to keep the money in the classroom and use dedicated money to fix the buildings,” said school board president Mike Pfeil.

Ames agreed, noting the buildings need to be maintained no matter how enrollment fluctuates.

“The money to keep this building up is not tied to enrollment,” he said. “We need that.”

Ames told the school board Monday he is collecting examples from around the state on how other schools have handled declining enrollment.?He said he will report back to the board with his findings.

“You are at a point where all options are on the table for next year,” Ames said.

In other business the board proposed raising it local property tax levy by 3.1 percent, the maximum allowed by the state. The amount can be lowered before the final levy is approved in December.