North Platte district projects significant enrollment drop

DEARBORN, Mo. — The North Platte Board of Education heard troubling news about enrollment projections for the next few years at its regular meeting Wednesday, Aug. 19 at North Platte Junior High School. One of the largest classes in recent memory is set to move on in May of 2016, and there are few answers as to how many students will come into the district — either by movement or ascendance into kindergarten. There were 619 students enrolled in the North Platte School District as of Tuesday, Aug. 18 — 208 in the high school.

However, one of the smallest classes in district history currently sits in eighth grade, ready to replace the historically large senior class.

That’s expected to drop the high school enrolment to under 200 pupils, estimated at 178 for 2016-17. The 2017-18 school year sees projected enrollment drop again to 165 in the senior high building — barring any changes with students moving into or out of the district.

This creates some uncertainty with state and federal aid tied closely with enrollment.

There is some possibility for North Platte to drop in Missouri State High School Activities Association classification for some sports. The Panthers compete in the Class 1 level for many sports, but baseball, softball, track and field and even basketball could be moved down if enrollment dips too far.

“Unless we have a very large enrollment of kindergarteners next year, we could expect a loss of 10-15 students total just based off of what we’re graduating,” Matt said. “The last couple (of kindergarten classes) have been better. They’ve been above 50.”

In addition to discussing enrollment, North Platte officials also set their operating tax levy at the meeting.

The North Platte Board of Education moved its operating tax levy up from $3.65 last year to $3.75 per $100 of assessed valuation for 2015-16. The debt service portion of the levy remained steady at $0.99 per $100.

Initially, the projected ceiling for the district’s tax rate came in at $3.72 from the state auditor’s office after the assessed valuation in the district’s boundaries went up more than $4 million. However, since most of the increase in valuation came from new construction still in progress, the amount of revenue the district was projected to receive actually dropped by more than $42,000.

This led to the auditor’s offices revising the ceiling to $3.87 per $100 of assessed valuation.

The board decided to set the rate at $3.75 — last year’s ceiling before the Proposition C rollback — after recommendation from Matt, who is beginning his first year in charge. This year the district does not have to roll back its operating levy after voters approved a permanent Proposition C waiver for the district during the April municipal election.

Proposition C was passed in 1982, creating a 1 percent statewide sales tax to help fund education.

When passed, school districts agreed to roll back local taxes to help prevent double taxation — sales and then property tax on the same items. However, voters can supply a waiver to make districts exempt. The operating levy is projected to bring in $2.4 million in local revenues. That combined with the debt services levy ($600,000) and other revenues received from student fees, athletic events and lunch price make up the $4 million in expected local revenue. The other $3.6 million comes from county, state and federal aid.

The board also heard initial results from the 2015 MAP test. The district received proficient or advanced scores at a rate higher than the state average in each subset — science, math, social studies and English and language arts.

More than 70 percent of students scored proficient or better in science, social studies and English and 58 percent reached the proficient mark in math.

“That’s a great commitment from our staff and this district,” board president George Hoeffner said. “We’re committed to providing a strong education for our kids is the goal. I think the staff deserves a great commendation for that. They’re doing an awesome job.”