HANCOCK COUNTY — Friday was the first official Average Daily Membership (ADM) count day of the new school year for Indiana schools. It is an important day for school districts since student enrollment numbers have a direct link to state district funding.
Greenfield-Central was the only corporation in Hancock County to see a reduction in school enrollment this year — dropping by 66 students — from 4,353 last fall to 4,287 this year.
The other three corporations saw an increase, no surprise given the rate of residential development taking place throughout the county.
At Mt. Vernon, enrollment increased by 95 students over last year, with an Average Daily Membership of 4,544 students reported on Friday.
The Community School Corporation of Southern Hancock reported an increase of 91 students for the fall of 2022, with 3,743 students registered for the fall semester — up from 3,652 last year.
The Community School Corporation of Eastern Hancock also saw an increase in students this year, thanks to a 34% increase in transfer students. Superintendent George Philhower said the county’s smallest corporation has 19 more students than last year, jumping from 1,151 to 1,170 this year.
More important than the enrollment numbers are how those numbers impact school funding from the state.
The Indiana State Board of Education collects an Average Daily Membership count from all state schools each fall and spring. While this year’s fall count was taken Sept. 16, the spring count will be held on Feb. 1, 2023. The state board uses the counts to determine funding for charter schools and school corporations for the 2022-23 school year.
Based on the board’s funding equation, Greenfield-Central will receive the most state funding per pupil of all Hancock County school systems this year.
The school system’s business manager, Nate Day, said Greenfield-Central should receive an estimated $7,628 per student this year, which is an increase over last year.
Day said the school system will use the increased funding to support teacher raises and enhanced school safety and security measures, including the expansion of School Resource Officer coverage.
Greenfield-Central gave teachers a $3,000 raise for the 2021-22 school year and again for the current 2022-23 school year.
Day said school officials are dedicated to attracting and retaining “high quality certified teachers, and we feel that we’ve made some great moves in that area with the raises we’ve given. We’re trying to keep our health insurance costs low and going out and finding great teachers,” he said.
Officials are also focused on boosting teaching resources in certain areas of need, like special education, English as a New Language, and Career Technical Education (vocational) classrooms.
At Mt. Vernon schools, assistant superintendent Chris Smedley said his corporation will see a 4.3% increase in state funding this year based on enrollment.
“The total all-in figure per student for our district is $7,261, which is a $300 increase from last year,” he said.
“A large part of that will be used for teacher salary increases, and obviously we have other needs as well that we’ll earmark and budget for throughout the year. Anything that’s going to support our education fund is going to come from those dollars that are from the state.”
While Mt. Vernon’s enrollment increased by 95 students, Smedley said it’s a smaller increase compared to recent trends, which has seen annual enrollment jump by roughly 140-150 students over the past few years.
“From the demographic study we had conducted back in 2019, our demographic predicted a little bit of a dip before we see another increase, which is what we’re seeing now. But I think we’ll probably be closer to that 150 average as we move forward,” he said.
Southern Hancock officials get an estimated $6,475 per student from the state this year, said Superintendent Lisa Lantrip. That equates to an estimated $580,000 more in funding for the district compared to last year.
Lantrip said the school system has already hired 12 new teachers this year to handle the student increase.
“We hired those 12 teachers to keep our class sizes low and to be able to offer students more class options at the junior high and high school,” she said.
Lantrip noted the student enrollment figures are solid, but they know the numbers will decrease in the spring when the second count day rolls around in February.
“What happens is — and this happens at all county schools — we all have students who graduate at the end of the first semester and we’re happy for them, but it does cause our count number in February to go down,” she said.
Philhower estimates that Eastern Hancock schools will receive $6,235 per student, a 4% increase from last year’s funding, which equates to an estimated $117,800 increase in state funding overall.
The superintendent said school officials plan to use most of the money to give teachers a well-deserved pay raise. They also hired a new third grade teacher, bringing all their kindergarten through fifth grade classes to four sections each.
Like the other districts, Philhower noted that Eastern Hancock will likely lose a handful of students in the spring.
“We know we have at least seven students we’re looking at for early graduation this year and for a school our size, that is a pretty high percentage,” he said.
The Daily Reporter’s Kristy Deer contributed to this story.