Enrollment numbers down in county, Opp

Published 1:50 am Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Opp and Covington County School systems saw a decrease in average daily membership numbers, which could potentially affect funding in the next fiscal year.

Each year, systems are required to submit enrollment numbers that record average daily membership (ADM) or daily enrollment.

Those numbers, which are gathered based on attendance the first 20 days after Labor Day, are used to determine the level of funding for a system – which includes teacher salaries – for the following fiscal year.

After three straight years of climbing enrollment, OCS saw a decrease of 17 students.

Superintendent Michael Smithart said there were 499 students reported at Opp Elementary School; 388 at Opp Middle School; and 364 students at Opp High School, and 36 in Pre-K, for a total of 1,287.

In the last 20 years, the highest enrollment was the 1996-1997 school year, when there were 1,659 students enrolled in Opp schools. The lowest number of students was recorded in the 2013-2014 school year, when there were 1,263 students.

Covington County Schools also saw a 39-student decrease, at 3,130.

Comparatively, in the 1997-1998 school year Covington County Schools had 3,291 students. The lowest enrollment was the 3,049 students in the 2009-2010 school year.

The following is a break down of enrollment numbers by school and includes pre-K.

  • Fleeta Junior High School – 154, a decrease of 15 from last year;
  • Florala High School – 202, a decrease of 11 from last year;
  • Pleasant Home School – 563, a decrease of 11 from last year;
  • Red Level High School – 262, a decrease of eight from last year;
  • Red Level Elementary School – 349, a decrease of 11 from last year;
  • Straughn Elementary School – 596, an increase of 58 from last year (includes a new Pre-K class);
  • Straughn Middle School – 28, a decrease of 21 from last year;
  • Straughn High School – 416, an increase of 13 from last year;
  • WS Harlan Elementary School – 303, an increase of 21 from last year.

Fleeta School is seeing its lowest enrollment, according to data available from the state department of education.

In the 1997-1998 school year, Fleeta School had 312 students enrolled.

Enrollment numbers have been on a steady decline since the 2002-2003 school year, when there were 306 enrolled.

Ten years later, there were 172 students enrolled and this year’s 154 average daily membership is the school’s lowest at 154.

That’s down more than half from the 312 students in the 1997-1998 school year.

Covington County Schools Superintendent Shannon Driver said that while Fleeta’s numbers are down, state funding is based on enrollment.

“The way I look at it is, the state funding is based on enrollment,” he said. “They earn their teacher units and it’s still a very good, well-functioning school. They are funded per student just like anyone else.”

SES has seen enough growth that it has sparked the need for an addition.

“As of today, we have 603 students in Pre-K through fifth grade,” SES Principal Bettye Anne Older said. “It’s unbelievable. We’re outgrowing the new addition before it’s even built.”

Older said it looks like SES is exploding in kindergarten and some upper grades.

“We do check attendance zones and make sure that students legitimately live in our attendance area,” she said.

Driver said that Straughn schools cumulatively have seen a net increase, where some of the other schools haven’t.

“It’s possible it will have an effect on the number of teachers,” he said. “The legislature helped us out this year. Since we were down a little bit, it may mean we lose a little bit. That will all depend on the divisors, but this is a kind of normal fluctuation for us.”

Andalusia City Schools’ numbers were not available Tuesday.