September 19, 2014

Area schools show student numbers stable

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ARENAC COUNTY — Results from the recent fall count day, Sept. 29, for area schools showed stable results, as student numbers were similar to those from last year.

Standish-Sterling Schools Superintendent Michael Dodge said, unofficially, the district was down around 30 students from last year.

“We are showing about 1,750 students this year. Last year we were at 1,780,” he said. “At around $7,000 a student, that gets to be a substantial amount.”

With the state allowance at $7,162 per student for the 2010-11 school year, Dodge said the loss of funds would be around $200,000.

“I think there has been a steady decrease across the whole county the last few years,” he said. “We are just going to be conservative with our spending.”

While Standish-Sterling showed a decrease in students, Arenac Eastern is reporting a gain of 14 students.

Superintendent Bill Grusecki said the student total is up to 278 from last year’s 264. He said the gain shows a step in the right direction.

“Ten years ago (Arenac Eastern) had 435 students,” Grusecki said. “Last year we hit our low of 264.”

He said he would like to see an increase in the student population every year, but said he has to be realistic.

“Realistically we have to be stable,” Grusecki said. “I would love to see an increase every year, but there needs to be more jobs in the area.”

Superintendent for AuGres-Sims Schools Anne Doriean said she was pleased that the district reached their projection of 400 students.

“We are at about the same number of students we were last year,” she said. “We are right in the ball park; that shows us stabilization.”

Doriean said prior to her becoming superintendent, numbers at AuGres-Sims were on the decline as the economy began to suffer. She said now numbers for the school district are holding strong.

“I think family life for people in this area has stabilized,” she said.

Pinconning Area Schools Superintendent Darren Kroczaleski said the school reported 1,481 students, down 60 from last year.

“We have been seeing a decrease of about 60 students every year for the past few years,” he said. “It’s hurts us a bit because obviously (we) receive less revenue.”

Kroczaleski said the district will have to be cautious about the budget this school year.

“We will be constantly adjusting the budget,” he said. “We will watch our spending and staffing.”

Kroczaleski said the area has seen a number of families leave the area because of the economy.

“We had a number of (General Motors) employees in the area and when the economy went bad , a lot of families left,” he said. “We are also seeing birth rates down.”

Dodge, Doriean, and Grusecki agree that the economy in the area has played a role in the amount of students enrolled at their schools.

Grusecki said that with the economy down and fewer jobs in the area, many families moved away from the area.

Dodge said he believes some families had to move because of job opportunities. He added that he also thinks that less children are being born.

“I think it’s just natural attrition,” he said.

Dorian said she is happy with the number of students AuGres-Sims brought in.

“For now, I don’t expect any larger numbers in the future,” she said.

Both Dorian and Grusecki said they are looking forward to potential funds from a federal bill called EduJobs, which was passed in August to help retain education jobs.

Grusecki said the stimulus could bring an additional $60,000 to Arenac Eastern.

“There is a lot we are doing here,” he said. “We get (additional money) with tribal grants and school of choice students coming here. We have a great facility and our staff is working hard to do the best job they can.”

Doriean said the money from EduJobs would help fill in holes left from state cuts in education.

“Like all school districts, we can use the extra dollars. Any additional (money) is helpful,” she said.

Dodge said that school-of-choice students coming to Standish-Sterling were a benefit to the district.

“We offer so many things for (students),” he said. “Right now our high school is full, and we have some bigger classes coming.”

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