G-C sees drop in kindergarten enrollment

GREENFIELD — As students and teachers across the county settle into routines for the school year, some classrooms in the Greenfield-Central School Corp. are not quite as full as normal.

The district has seen a sharp decrease in the number of kindergartners who enrolled compared with previous years. So far this year, 286 kindergartners are enrolled, 67 fewer than last year.

The county’s other three public school districts have seen slight increases in kindergarten enrollment compared with previous years.

While enrollment numbers aren’t finalized until the state deadline Sept. 18, Greenfield-Central administrators have expressed concerns the decrease will mean less funding for the district.

Superintendent Harold Olin said the dip is an anomaly but predicts the district will recoup those numbers with future classes.

“It’s certainly unusual to see a decrease like this, but I fully anticipate that number will rise,” Olin said.

Districtwide, several grade levels have seen increased enrollment. The freshman class, for instance, grew by 37 students, and the seventh-grade class increased by 20. In all, Olin predicts the district will have lost 10 to 20 students from last year’s number.

That would mean a loss of up to $100,000 in funding the district receives from the state Department of Education, as the funding formula is tied to enrollment, Olin said. That money funnels into Greenfield-Central’s general fund, which pays for utilities and teacher salaries.

Matt Davis, principal at J.B. Stephens Elementary School, said the decrease hasn’t necessitated any major changes to staffing in his building.

“We’ve just shuffled some teachers around a bit,” Davis said, adding that a kindergarten teacher was shifted to second grade to accommodate a higher number of students there. “… We won’t lose any teachers.”

Across the county, Mt. Vernon schools has 249 kindergartners, 11 more than last year. Similarly, Southern Hancock schools added seven, and Eastern Hancock increased its kindergarten class by 10.

As the Greenfield-Central kindergarten class makes its way through grade levels, Olin said, the district might just settle for smaller class sizes. He said the alternative is to move teachers between grade levels as the smaller class makes its way through the system.

School board President Retta Livengood said she was startled to see the decrease but added that enrollment fluctuates based on factors outside the district’s control.

“We have a lot of businesses in the area, and people who work there have to relocate often, so that number can easily go up or down,” Livengood said. “We do our best to plan for what we can expect or anticipate to happen but can’t always know what the end result will be.”

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Daniel Morgan is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. He can be reached at (317) 477-3228 or dmorgan@greenfieldreporter.com.