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Brandon School District enrollment tumbles



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February 27, 2013 - Brandon Twp.- The number of students in the Brandon School District has been plummeting for the past six years and the decline continues.

A student count on Feb. 13 reveals the district lost another 38 students over the course of the past four months. This is in addition to the 93 student decrease from the October count.

Superintendent Lorrie McMahon was not surprised by the loss of students in the middle of the school year.

"As the economy has become more and more difficult, we have had consistent losses from fall to winter over the last five years," she said. "The majority of the losses come as entire families move away due to economic situations. We had hoped (the decreases) wouldn't continue."

However, it appears the end to the losses is nowhere in sight.

"For the next 10 years there will be no increase and an actual decrease in students overall for the next 20 years," said McMahon. "As we graduate more students than we bring in, the classes get smaller. Right now we are graduating 100 more kids each year than we are enrolling. That is projected to happen for the next 5 years. This year's 8th grade class is large, but then they start to drop. The birth rate has been shrinking for 10 years and is expected to continue."

The majority of revenue for public school districts in Michigan comes in per-pupil funding from the state. The fall count determines 90 percent of the per-pupil funding, while the February count determines the remaining 10 percent.

The district lost $650,000 in funding after the October count, since the district is allocated about $7,000 per pupil.

The February count helps the district project losses in the more important fall count. McMahon and Finance Director Janice Meek are planning a budget based on an expected loss of 80 more students next fall.

"If this projection comes true, we will have about a $560,000 loss based on per-pupil state funding," McMahon said.

The district's total projected operating deficit for the 2013-14 school year is $1.5 million and in June 2014, the district could have a fund balance deficit of $400,000.

While McMahon said district officials are working hard to reduce expenses, she doesn't know what savings there will be other than the $200,000 savings expected from the reconfigurations of school buildings planned for the fall.

There has been no change in contract negotiations with the Brandon Education Association. The union and administrators will meet with a state appointed fact finder on March 21.

Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville
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