School enrollment down in Escambia County

Published 10:30 am Wednesday, October 26, 2011

For the first time in about five years, enrollment is down county-wide, Superintendent Billy Hines said — although the numbers are up at Escambia County High School.

Education officials look hard at the number of students being served at area schools this year — mostly because federal funding for next year depends on those numbers.

Hines said numbers are important throughout the year, but are even more important at the beginning of the school year.

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“Those first days of school are the ones that count when it comes to funding for the next year,” Hines said. “The attendance during that time gives a count on how many students we serve and funding is provided based on those students enrolled and attending school.”
The figures used in calculating funds to be awarded to the schools are based on daily attendance at the beginning of a school year through the 20th day following Labor Day.

“Our totals are in and we are down across the system by about 120 students,” Hines said. “Most of the schools were pretty steady, butW.S. Neal High School lost the most this year.”

Taking a look at figures across the system, Hines said some schools gained enrollment while others lost.

“Those losses were sometimes offset by gains at some schools,” Hines said. “There’s no way to know exactly why we lost students in some areas and gained them in others.” There are a lot of reasons — including the economy — that affect where students attend school.
Atmore area schools lost 55 students overall this school year.

In a breakdown by schools, A.C. Moore Elementary School showed a decrease by 15 students with 270 enrolled at the school that serves third and fourth grade students. Rachel Patterson Elementary, which is a K-2 facility, lost 16 students this year with an enrollment of 394 students. Huxford Elementary School lost 19 students with an enrollment of 286.

The only school in the Atmore area showing an increase in student enrollment was Escambia County High School, Hines said.
ECHS showed an increase if eight students with an enrollment of 546 students. Escambia County Middle School lost 13 students with 599 enrolled.

At W.S. Neal schools, 48 students were lost overall, Hines said.

“We had a gain of about 20 students at W.S. Neal Elementary, but we lost 22 at W.S. Neal Middle School,” Hines said. “W.S. Neal High School was the hardest hit in the whole system. The school’s enrollment was down by 46 this year. That’s a tough number to overcome.”
The loss for the 2011-2012 school year is a big change for the system, Hines said.

“Over the last five years we’ve been gaining students,” Hines said. “This is the first time that we’ve had a significant loss since I’ve been superintendent.”

In Flomaton, another increase in student enrollment was shown at Flomaton High School while Flomaton Elementary took a hit in enrollment.

FHS showed an increase of nine students with an enrolment of 414 while Flomaton Elementary School lost 19 students with an enrollment of 343.

At Pollard-McCall Junior High School, enrollment was down by seven with a student count of 206.

Enrollment is steady at the Compass/Alternative School, which is housed in Flomaton, with an average enrollment of 45.

“These totals will certainly cause us to lose some of our federal funding,” Hines said. “It’s not clear just what that loss will be, but any loss is bad right now. With funding already an issue, we can’t stand to lose anything. But, we’ll deal with things as they come and continue to provide the best education for the students we serve.”