Purdy schools see student drop in official count
A decline of 18 students won't impact state funding
After a flurry of families moving in and others leaving, the Purdy school district reported its enrollment by the end of September had dropped by 18 since the Sept. 30 official count a year ago, which will impact school funding for the year.
The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) bases school funding on the Sept. 30 count, recognizing student counts generally change before and after Labor Day, and have usually settled into a steady point by the end of September.
Purdy principals reported significant number fluctuations in just the first week of school. Janet Boys, elementary principal, reported she had added 33 new pupils in grades four and under. Indications suggested the movement of people was influenced by the search for jobs and homes, not impressions about the school district itself.
The Sept. 30 count for Purdy tallied 644 pupils, down 34 from the 678 who attended on the first day of school, a variance that has no official significance. The count is down 18 from the 662 reported to DESE at the end of September 2015. According to a spokesperson for DESE, the student count change will not affect school funding for the present year.
"The basic formula calculation allows for districts to be paid on the higher of the first preceding year Weighted Average Daily Attendance (WADA) or the second preceding year WADA," said Nancy Bowles, DESE communications specialist. "The Purdy school district is currently being paid based on the second preceding year WADA so there won't be an immediate impact on the formula calculation for the district."
The drop from the first day showed up most dramatically at the lower grades. Student numbers below eighth grade dropped at every grade level, down 14 from fourth grade and under, and down 10 from grades five through eight. On the positive side, the kindergarten count, the barometer for future class sizes that becomes a critical measure for projecting student body sizes, rose by two to 43. Purdy kindergarten class sizes have run below 50 since the 2013-2014 school year.
The high school, where the first day recorded only a four-student difference from the first day in 2015, ended up down eight for the September count.
Superintendent Steven Chancellor was not discouraged by the number fluctuations.
"This year has already seen a lot of success between our girls golf team performing well at state, a highly attended [Parent-Student-Teacher Organization] carnival and much more," Chancellor said. "We continue to hear of more and more people being interested in what Purdy is doing for our students and the opportunities they have for a personal learning experience."