Fayette BoE eyes 4 fewer teachers, 481 fewer students for next school year

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In the Fayette County School System’s preliminary plans, teacher numbers are going down by four, while student numbers are going down by more than 100 times that: 481.

The Fayette County Board of Education Monday night got a look at the preliminary teacher and staff allotment numbers for the 2014-2015 school year that begins in August. The school system is proposing a net decrease of four teachers. Projections also included the estimated student enrollment decreasing by 481 students next year.

Elementary schools this year employ 629 certified staff such as teachers. Projected allotments show the addition of three teachers, bringing the total to 632.

Middle schools currently employ 348 certified staff. The allotment projection calls for 343.5 staff next year, a reduction of 4.5 certified staff.

High schools have 496.82 certified staff on the payroll. The projection for next school year calls for 494.32 certified staff, a reduction of 2.5 staff.

Despite the projected drop in student enrollment, Superintendent Jody Barrow at the meeting said he hoped to build the FY 2015 budget by restoring some of the positions cut in recent years. If that occurs, the impact could lead to lower teacher-student ratios.

The move to firm up the allotment numbers will need to occur in time for the approval of the tentative budget in May, said Assistant Superintendent Tom Gray.

Included in the projections were the number of students currently enrolled and the number expected to be enrolled when the new school year begins in August. Those projections showed the potential for a net loss of 481 students.

A breakdown of enrollment projections showed a loss of 378 students in the county’s elementary schools, 227 fewer students in middle schools and an increase of 124 students in high schools.

Gray said enrollment projections are accomplished, in part, by rolling students up one grade level. Using that view, this year’s senior class includes approximately 350 more students than the current elementary classes. Also figuring into the projection is the historic trend whereby students entering the school system often tend to be those whose parents moved to Fayette County from other areas of the state or nation. Those students tend to be middle or high school move-ins, Gray said.

Taken as a whole, Gray emphasized that enrollment projections are essentially estimations that must be made for planning purposes.

If accurate, total enrollment numbers will be lower than at any point since the late 1990s.

The all-time high in enrollment came in the 2006-2007 school year when Fayette schools were populated with 22,3687 students. The school system has seen a reduction of more than 2,000 students since that time, with current enrollment at 20,148.

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