Enrollment projections inform decisions on school staffing

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 18, 2022

RESERVE — As the school year draws to a close, the St. John the Baptist Parish School District is reviewing preliminary projections on student enrollment to make decisions on staffing for the 2022-2023 academic year.

Using data from JCampus, Educational Consultant Dr. Curt Green is projecting 4,315 scholars will be enrolled at St. John Parish Public Schools sites in August 2022. Compared to the 2021-2022 enrollment of 4,781, this signifies a potential decrease of 466 scholars.

During the May 12 School Board meeting, Green reminded the board members that this projection represents a snapshot in time.

He anticipates that students who are currently enrolled but not testing will need to be subtracted from next year’s count.

“As time moves forward, we will look at the numbers again and see if we need to make adjustments,” Green said. “Unless kindergarten numbers increase or we have an influx of students come our way, this is where we’re at. Perhaps the students who are non-testers will decide to return to the parish, and we can adjust these numbers.”

Since the District does not have an accurate prediction of next year’s kindergarten enrollment at this time, Green said numbers from the previous year were used for the projection. He also pointed out that the enrollment projection of 371 for John L. Ory is likely to increase to 450 due to the lottery process.

School Board President Nia Mitchell-Williams asked Robert Schaff, who oversees truancy, to contact families of students who are not testing. With some families still displaced by Hurricane Ida damage, Mitchell-Williams said parents who own property in St. John Parish may be more likely to return as repairs are completed between now and August.

“If we staff for 466 less and then we get an influx of students that are returning because their homes are rebuilt, then we are putting ourselves in a situation where we are now trying to fill positions when other (districts) have already picked up the certified teachers,” Mitchell-Williams said.

Dr. Jaunita Hill, director of data management, said a decline in student enrollment results in a decline in staffing. She added that staffing for each year is projected using a formula that accounts for student enrollment per grade level.
School Board member Debbie Schum said it is crucial to maintain certified teachers, even if the student enrollment decreases.

“My concern is that last year, when we had all these discussions about staffing and how we were going to trim, we lost 55 certified teachers,” she said, adding that non-certified teachers had to be hired last July to fill vacancies created by the resignations.

Hill noted that there are still vacancies in the district, and non-certified teachers who are currently enrolled in certification programs will not need to worry about their positions being cut.

“We are telling them they are guaranteed a job, even if the position where they are currently has been filled by a certified teacher, because of the number of vacancies we have in our district,” Hill said. “There is a place for them somewhere in our district. They are making a commitment to get certified, so we are making a commitment to them to remain in our district.”

Patrick Sanders said the District will need to look at finances to remain competitive, especially in light of the recent 10% pay raise for full-time and permanent part-time employees in the neighboring St. Charles Parish Public School District.