City, county schools lose students

Published 7:15 pm Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Education officials are looking hard at the number of students being
served at area schools this year — mostly because federal funding for
next year depends on those numbers.
Escambia County School’s Superintendent Billy Hines said numbers are
important throughout the year, but are even more important at the
beginning of the school year.
“Those first days of school are the ones that count when it comes to
funding for the next year,” Hines said. “The attendance during that
time gives a count on how many students we serve and funding is
provided based on those students enrolled and attending school.”
The figures used in calculating funds to be awarded to the schools are
based on daily attendance at the beginning of a school year through
the 20th day following Labor Day.
“Our totals are in and we are down across the system by about 120
students,” Hines said. “Most of the schools were pretty steady but
W.S. Neal High School lost the most this year.”
In Brewton City Schools the loss is less dismal when it comes to
looking at funding for the 2012-2013 year.
Lynn Smith, superintendent for Brewton City School’s, said the losses
were minor for the system with enrollment down by a dozen.
“We did lose a little this year,” Smith said. “But what we’re seeing
is nothing unusual. As a matter of fact, we expected to see these
kinds of numbers this year.”
The loss in the city system will amount to the loss of funding for
one-half to three-fourths of a teaching unit, Smith said.
At Brewton Elementary School, enrollment was at 474. Enrollment at
Brewton Middle School topped out at 373 while T.R. Miller High School
recorded enrollment at 356.
Taking a look at figures across the county system, Hines said some
schools gained enrollment while others lost.
“Those losses were sometimes offset by gains at some schools,” Hines
said. “There’s no way to know exactly why we lost students in some
areas and gained them in others. There are a lot of reasons —
including the economy — that affect where students attend school.
At W.S. Neal schools, 48 students were lost overall, Hines said.
“We had a gain of about 20 students at W.S. Neal Elementary but we
lost 22 at W.S. Neal Middle School,” Hines said. “W.S. Neal High
School was the hardest hit in the whole system. The school’s
enrollment was down by 46 this year. That’s a tough number to
The loss for the 2011-2012 school year is a big change for the system,
Hines said.
“Over the last five years we’ve been gaining students,” Hines said.
“This is the first time that we’ve had a significant loss since I’ve
been superintendent.”
In other areas of the county’s system, Atmore area schools lost 55
students overall this school year.
In a breakdown by schools, A.C. Moore Elementary School showed a
decrease by 15 students with 270 enrolled at the school that serves
third and fourth grade students. Rachel Patterson Elementary, which is
a K-2 facility, lost 16 students this year with an enrollment of 394
students. Huxford Elementary School lost 19 students with an
enrollment of 286.
The only school in the Atmore area showing an increase in student
enrollment was Escambia County High School, Hines said.
ECHS showed an increase if eight students with an enrollment of 546
students. Escambia County Middle School lost 13 students with 599
In Flomaton, another increase in student enrollment was shown at
Flomaton High School while Flomaton Elementary took a hit in
FHS showed an increase of nine students with an enrolment of 414 while
Flomaton Elementary School lost 19 students with an enrollment of 343.
At Pollard-McCall Junior High School, enrollment was down by seven
with a student count of 206.
Enrollment is steady at the Compass/Alternative School, which is
housed in Flomaton, with an average enrollment of 45.
“These totals will certainly cause us to lose some of our federal
funding,” Hines said. “It’s not clear just what that loss will be, but
any loss is bad right now. With funding already an issue, we can’t
stand to lose anything. But, we’ll deal with things as they come and
continue to provide the best education for the students we serve.”
Smith said enrollment is something administrators and educators have
little control over from year to year.
“We were up 15 or so last year,” Smith said. “We’ve lost a few this
year and that’s just something you can’t do anything about.”