Source: Sherman Publications

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After five years, student count up in Brandon

by Susan Bromley

October 12, 2011

After years of declining enrollment, Brandon School District officials were surprised to learn last week that there was a gain in students this year.

Student count day, Oct. 5, revealed that Brandon has five more students, bringing the total student body to roughly 3,360, over last fall's count of approximately 3,355.

While the increase seems miniscule, it is a genuine boost for district officials, who were budgeting for a decline of at least 60 students.

"We do have more money coming in than expected, which is wonderful," said Superintendent Lorrie McMahon.

The Brandon School District is receiving $6,846 per-pupil in funding from the state for the 2011-2012 school year, and is also expecting $100 per-pupil for meeting Gov. Rick Snyder's Best Practices, as well as another $100 per-pupil for increased

retirement costs, although these funds are only anticipated as a 1-year supplement.

Based on fall student enrollment, McMahon said the district will receive roughly $23 million in state aid this year. However, she added, while the student count increase means more money, don't expect items to be added to the budget.

"The student count is great, but at this point, we don't plan on restoring (programs or staffing) to last year's level," she said. "We're still struggling."

Increases in students and decreases in staffing have caused overcrowding in some classrooms. During the student-parent committee meeting Oct. 10, McMahon and board members discussed in particular the third grade classes at Oakwood Elementary.

"The third grade at Oakwood is a concern because of class sizes," McMahon said. "We will address this issue— we could add a parapro or supplement with a teacher."

The Oakwood third grade classes are averaging about 33 students each. Ideal class size for first, second and third grades are about 22 students, said McMahon. 18-20 students is the goal for kindergarten classes, while 25 students in each class is the goal for fourth grade and up.

"That's what we would like and used to have," said McMahon, who also voiced concerns with the current high number of students in middle school and high school classes.