School Enrollment: Madison finally slows 2008.01.23

Written by David Green. Posted in Feature Stories

By DAVID GREEN

Just when it looked like Madison’s school enrollment was leveling off, along comes a kindergarten class numbering 152.

Only Adrian and Tecumseh have a larger kindergarten enrollment in Lenawee County, and Madison’s other classes average only 110.

Or maybe there’s just something attractive about the school’s kindergarten program. A year ago, once-tiny Madison had 147 new kindergarten students, but that number dropped to 116 in this year’s first grade class. Thirty-one kids apparently didn’t hang around long.

Madison’s enrollment increased by only six students from a year ago—way down from the average of 52 for the previous seven years—but the district still advanced higher in the rankings as other districts continue to lose students.

In this year’s enrollment data from the Lenawee Intermediate School District, every public school district in the county lost students except Madison and Adrian. No surprise there for Madison administrators, but Adrian’s gain of 27 students marked the first enrollment gain in a long time.

After years of decline, Adrian’s enrollment stands at 444 students more than Tecumseh. Last year there was a difference of only 333.

One more thing to note about Madison: This year’s senior class is the last one below 100 students, barring any significant changes. The average class size, not including the big kindergarten class, stands at 110. This year’s senior class numbers only 80.

Seven other districts—from Adrian down to Sand Creek—have larger graduating classes than that, yet Madison still stands as the fourth largest district. Onsted still has 319 more students than Madison and Blissfield has 154 fewer.

In September 2006, Morenci showed a decline of 22 students from the previous year. By September 2007, enrollment dropped another 22.

There was an unusually small graduating class last May with only 49 members, but there’s more of that coming along. This year’s freshman class numbers only 50 and the third grade class stands at just 53.

Morenci’s average class size is 67 and the kindergarten started off with 71.

It doesn’t look too promising for the county’s two smallest districts. Deerfield, the smallest, lost 26 students from a year ago—seven percent of its total enrollment.  Deerfield’s average class size is 27. The average K-2 is only 17.

There’s a similar situation at Britton, the next smallest district. The average class size is 40, but only 23 are enrolled in kindergarten. Only one K-6 class reaches 40.

The other districts losing the biggest percentage of the student body are Hudson with a 7 percent loss and Addison with a 6 percent loss. Hudson is likely to dip below the 1,000 mark next September.

Across the border in Fayette, enrollment dropped by 19 students to put the total at 438.   The district has an unusually small senior class with only 23 students, but there are two other classes in the 20s. The average class size is 34.

Schools of Choice

Michigan’s Schools of Choice option continues to play a big role in enrollment patterns.

Without Schools of Choice, Morenci would be back above 900 students where Sand Creek  stands; Sand Creek would shrink by 200 students to 736.

Twenty-nine Morenci district students believe the grass is greener on the Aggie side of the fence, while only 14 Sand Creek students choose Morenci.

It’s often a matter of geography, said Morenci superintendent Kyle Griffith. He makes an effort to contact all families choosing other schools to find out why they leave. Many families live near school district boundaries and choose to cross to the other side.

Griffith said the district works to continue to make Morenci attractive with AP courses, dual enrollment opportunities, and other benefits such as the financial agreement with Siena Heights.

“The greatest thing we can control is instruction and I think we do a good job there,” he said. “It’s the people who make the difference.”

Twenty-seven percent of Sand Creek’s student body lives outside the district. Most of them come from Adrian (154), but the school also draws students from Hudson (24) and Madison (27) in addition to Morenci’s 29.

For Madison, 33 percent of its students live elsewhere, with 439 coming from Adrian. Adrian loses a grand total of 887 students—almost a quarter of the district’s students head elsewhere. The district picks up 215 students, more than half of them from Madison.

Britton is equal to Madison in that 33 percent of the student body resides in other districts—mostly Tecumseh. Without Schools of Choice, Britton wouldn’t be much larger than its neighbor, Deerfield.

Deerfield and Adrian are the only districts in the county that don’t post a net gain from the choice option, although it’s getting more tenuous for Morenci. Last year the district’s net gain was 21. This year the number slipped to six, with 50 coming in and 44 going out.

As in the past, Waldron students have kept Morenci in the positive, but that number slipped from 28 a year ago to 19 this year.

On the withdrawal side, Morenci loses 10 to Hudson, five to Onsted and 29 to Sand Creek. The gains are two from Adrian, one from Blissfield, 12 from Hudson, one from Onsted, 14 from Sand Creek, and one from Tecumseh, in addition to Waldron’s 19.

 

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