After an unexpected boost in enrollment last year, student numbers at the Haines School have dropped to some of the lowest the district has ever seen. That’s in stark contrast to Skagway, where the school continues to see growth in the student population.
There was good news for the two schools last year, when Skagway and Haines both saw increases in enrollment.
Skagway had nearly 101 students. That was the first time since the 2007-2008 school year that the number surpassed 100.
That number was a turning point for the school district which moved to single-grade classrooms in the elementary school because of increased state funding and student numbers.
That same year – the 2007-2008 school year – marked the beginning of a downward trend in enrollment for the Haines School. Numbers continued to dwindle until last year, when the enrollment went up from 268 in 2014-2015, to 277 students.
But this year, it was only Skagway that saw a positive enrollment change.
“We’re really happy to see those continue to go up. And we are just excited to be moving in that direction,” says Skagway Superintendent Josh Coughran.
He says during the official enrollment count in the fall, the school counted 113.5 students.
According to state standards, some students are tallied as less than a full point, because of homeschooling and other factors.
“So it’s an increase of roughly 13 students,” says Coughran.
Coughran says they’re seeing the biggest boost in one age group in particular.
“It was primarily in younger grades,” says Coughran. “We’re seeing some pretty significant increases in our K-5 classes.”
More students means more funding. That’s because schools receive a per-student allocation from the state.
“It means increased funding for sure,” says Coughran. “Obviously the more students that you have in the building, based on the base student allocation, the higher the level of the funding coming from the state.”
In Haines, this year’s enrollment was down about 15 students from last year. The official count tallied 261.7 students. That includes the district’s 21 home-schooled students.
The school board predicted a drop in enrollment and budgeted for the loss.
Even though it was expected, enrollment at Haines School hasn’t been this low since the 1950s.
According to Haines Superintendent Tony Habra, who is new to the district this school year, it’s hard to pin down a specific reason for the drop in numbers.