Drop in enrollment will cost APSD $800,000

Dauzat says population decline apparent cause

A drop in enrollment numbers will take an $800,000 bite out of the Avoyelles Parish School District budget this year, the School Board learned at its monthly meeting Oct. 3.

“Enrollment is a little better today than at the start of the school year, but still not great,” Dauzat said. “As a district, we are 132 students behind what the Feb. 1 count showed and what we had budgeted.”

The parish receives about $6,000 per student through the state’s Minimum Foundation Program for public schools. The projected loss of 132 students means the district will receive almost $800,000 less than it had budgeted to receive.

“Our budget is down to the bare bones,” Dauzat said. “I don't plan on any more cuts, but we will be extremely thrifty with our funds.

‘WILL BE DEVASTATING’

“Anymore cuts needed in the future could affect the entire school system,” he continued. “If we have to make more cuts, it will be devastating.”

He said high school enrollment is actually up by 21 students, but elementary enrollment is down 153 students. The biggest losses are in kindergarten and 1st grade.

Marksville Elementary was down 46 students and Cottonport Elementary was down by 45. Bunkie Elementary Learning Academy had 37 fewer students. Riverside Elementary was down by 21 and Plaucheville Elementary was down 11 students. Lafargue Elementary had a slight increase of seven students.

In the high schools, Marksville High’s enrollment decreased by 20 students. Avoyelles High has 24 more students than expected while enrollment increased by nine students at LaSAS and by eight students at Bunkie Magnet High.

“What was strange is that we check with parochial schools and their enrollment is about the same, and the same holds true for home schooling,” Dauzat said. “A possible explanation is there was a partial census done in 2016 that showed Avoyelles Parish’s population was down 2.3 percent.”

The loss of revenue had been put in the budget as part of the 2017-2018 budget. The board had been estimating a $3-3.5 million deficit and had already started making cuts.

“We have already trimmed our budget by $3.3 million and continue to look at ways to cut the budget,” Dauzat told board members. “The staff continues to look at other revenue streams, including grants.”

With the decline in enrollment, the School Board is expecting a $1.5 million deficit for this budget year.

Dauzat said the board’s overall fund balance has not changed over the past two years, meaning the board has not had to dip into its cash reserves to cover a budget deficit.

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