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Student numbers brighter

| October 15, 2004 12:00 AM

By Paul Boring Western News Reporter

Although student enrollment in the Libby School District has declined, Superintendent Kirby Maki said the numbers are encouraging.

As of Monday, enrollment in the district was down 58 students from this time last year. A second count will be taken in February and the two numbers will be averaged to determine how much funding the district receives.

Historically, the enrollment decline has been more dramatic, Maki said. The first count in 2003 showed a variance of more than 190 students from the year before.

³When we averaged the count dates, it really only came out to be roughly 170 students, but that¹s huge,² he said. ³Here we¹re looking at 1509 students in 2003 and this year as of Monday we¹re at 1451.²

Given the disparity between the larger senior classes that have graduated and the smaller classes moving up, Maki said the figures have been more predictable.

³It looks like we¹ve stabilized because you graduate 140 and you move 90 up,² he said. ³It¹s stable because that¹s all the kids we have. When it¹s not stable it would be up or down the other way.²

Monday¹s count showed 400 students in levels kindergarten through fourth grade, 475 students in grades five through eight, and 568 students in the high school levels.

³Looking at the numbers, you can see what¹s coming for us,² Maki said. ³Even if we pick up enrollment, it¹s going to take its toll.²

The district receives roughly $5,000 per student for grades seven through 12. The allotted amount for younger kids is dependent on the number of students.

³In one way the number of students we¹re down is not good because we could be losing $300,000, but it¹s much better than thinking 200 kids times $5,000,² Maki said. ³At that point it becomes almost impossible.²

Declining enrollment should not divert the focus of educators, Maki said.

³I¹ve said this many, many times,² he said. ³There¹s nothing wrong with being small. The important thing is the quality of the programs that we have and the activities that we provide for the kids. Even though we¹re losing enrollment, that¹s not something to be ashamed of. We need to be proud of our programs and work to make them even better.²