School enrollment stays steady
Stability seems to be the trend when it comes to school enrollment in the Bonner Springs-Edwardsville and Basehor-Linwood school districts.
Final enrollment numbers are in and both districts show only a slight increase over last year's numbers.
Kansas school districts are funded on a per-student basis. State funding is based on how many students are enrolled in the district on Sept. 20.
The Bonner Springs-Edwardsville District gained five students this year with an enrollment of 2,236 students. The Basehor-Linwood District is still smaller, but gaining on Bonner Springs-Edwardsville.
Basehor-Linwood had an increase of 83 students, for a total enrollment of 2,007. Those numbers could be a bit misleading, however, because 66 of the new students are enrolled in the district's Virtual Charter School.
The Virtual Charter School serves people from throughout the state via the Internet. The district does, however, receive funding from the state for its virtual school students.
Bonner Springs Superintendent Robert Van Maren said he was not surprised by the final count.
"We've been going up by about 2 percent every year for the last four years," he said.
The slight increase in student population may not be indicative of the town's overall growth, Van Maren said. Many new homes in the area are priced higher than most people with small children can afford, leaving the district with a different demographic than areas where smaller, starter homes are more common, he explained. The enrollment stability could also be indicative of an aging community, he added.
"Each community is different. As residents get older, their children have already gone through school so the numbers per household might go down," he said. "In our district, we know we can expect about one student for every four new homes built. In some district's, that number may be higher."
Calvin Cormack, acting superintendent at Basehor-Linwood, said enrollment numbers in his district also were close to what he expected.
"We're fairly stable compared to last year," he said. "We seem to have reached a plateau of sorts."
Cormack said he would like to enjoy the stability while it lasted.
With completion of the city's new sewage treatment plant about a year away, Cormack said he expects enrollment numbers to "take off" in another few years.
"We're going into a period of time when we can really emphasize and concentrate on what's going on inside the classrooms," he said.
"Not that we don't do that in times of growth, but keeping up with it can be distracting."
VanMaren said he too is satisfied with rate at which his district is growing.
"We're doing well," he said. "In several districts in the area, like Piper and Tonganoxie, the enrollment numbers are dropping."