Fayette enrollment drops another school’s worth of students


Compared to last year, 601 fewer kids show up for 1st day of school in Fayette; 4th straight year of declining numbers

The Fayette County School System has seen a decline in student enrollment each year since 2007. And the beginning of the 2011-2012 school year is proving to be no exception.

The first day of school Aug. 8 saw a decrease of 600 students compared to the first day of school a year ago. For comparison purposes, that’s the equivalent of a full elementary school. The decreases, however, covered all 12 grades.

In terms of total enrollment for the first day of school, the school system on Aug. 8 saw 20,293 students reporting for classes. That compares to the 20,894 students attending the first day of school on Aug. 9, 2010, according to information suppled by the school system. Those numbers represent a one-year decrease of just over 600 students.

The first day of school this year in the school system’s elementary schools saw 8,113 students arriving for classes. That compares to 8,398 students on the first day of school last year, a difference of 285 students.

Fayette’s five middle schools also experienced a continued dip in enrollment during the first week of school this year. Middle school attendance on the first day totaled, 4,945 students compared to 5,064 students on the first day of school last year, a decrease of 119 students.

And Fayette’s high schools saw a decrease in the number of students on the first day of classes. The five high schools saw 7,163 students the first day of school this year compared to 7,361 students the first day of school last year, a difference of 198 students.

For better or worse, those numbers are not the end of the story since school systems tend to see some continued enrollment into September. The mid-September enrollment count is likely to be somewhat more definitive. While other students will filter in beyond that date, it is often the case that enrollment will not increase significantly beyond that time.

Also tracked was attendance on the first day of the second week of school. Attendance on Aug. 15 in the elementary schools recorded 8,171 students compared to 8,520 for the same time period last year. Those figures represent a decrease of 349 students.

Second week attendance figures for middle and high schools were not available at press time.

Student enrollment in Fayette County for decades mirrored Fayette County in general where both saw significant annual growth with the increases in revenues that accompanied that growth.

Things began to change in 2007 when enrollment topped out at 22,367. Since that time the year-ending numbers have decreased. Enrollment in 2010 was down to 21,683 students and, by March 1, 2011, enrollment sat at 21,296.

An all-important factor in enrollment relates to the dollars that flow in to the school system from the state. It is a figure that amounts to roughly $4,000 per student or $1 million for every 250 fewer students.

Meantime, the Fayette County Board of Education is currently looking at ways to trim millions off the upcoming 2012-2013 budget, or add additional revenue or both, in order to comply with state law that requires a balanced budget.