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Student numbers improve

| December 16, 2004 11:00 PM

By Roger Morris Western News Publisher

After dropping 19 students during the first month of the school year, the student-count has been climbing for the past three months, Superintendent Kirby Maki reported Tuesday night at the Libby School Board meeting.

The student population for the district was 1,471 in September and dropped to 1,450 in October, which is one of the two months that the state uses to fund education based on student census.

As of the beginning of December, the district¹s student count was at 1,461.

³It¹s not a bad sign, it¹s a good sign,² Maki said. ³We¹re down 39 from last year at this time and we¹re down 10 from the beginning of the school year but it¹s showing signs of climbing after being down 21 right after school started in September.²

Last year, the drop in student population cost the school district more than $600,000 resulting in the elimination of 23 jobs.

The high school is down seven students since the start of school while the middle school is showing a loss of 4 students. At the elementary school level, Libby has seen an increase of one student.

The state calculates its funding formulas using student populations from October and February.

Libby lost 48 students during the 2003-2004 school year and 119 students during the 2002-2003 school year.

Maki remains optimistic about the school district.

³We¹re doing better than most districts,² he said, based on what he heard Monday night at a school district legislative meeting in Columbia Falls.

³We¹ve eliminated jobs, including teaching positions, closed buildings and cut other expenses and we¹ve made real strides forward in spite of all that,² Maki said. Based on testing required by No Child Left Behind ³our student proficiency levels are improving month by month.²

Maki said it was a credit to the staff and the school trustees.

³We should be pretty pleased,² he continued. ³As a school district I feel good about that but we do need to keep working harder because it won¹t get easier.²