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School District concerned about funding shortage

By Cindy Jo Ayers

During the December 12 meeting of the Gilchrist County School Board, Superintendent Robert Rankin and the School Board discussed the funding that is tied to student enrollment. Superintendent Rankin told the board that there were fewer students attending Gilchrist County Schools than predicted. He stated that fewer students will mean less funding for the district.

This was the first year the district participated in Controlled Open Enrollment and they predicted that they would have fifty new in-county students this year.  They stopped any new out of county students from entering school here. But during the first count in October David Dose, the Finance Director for the school district, reported that the count fell about 50 students short of what had been predicted for this school year.

Superintendent Rankin asked the School Board members if they thought they should open enrollment to out of county students at this point in the school year. Rankin told board members they would receive half the funding for each new student that enrolled now.

Assistant Superintendent Ronda Parrish was concerned that accepting out of county students would contradict their Controlled Open Enrollment policy.

Each regular student earns the school district $3,971.42 per year. So a shortfall of funds could amount to nearly $200,000. The last official student count will be the week of February 5-9.

Superintendent Rankin and the school board discussed opening enrollment to out of county students at this point in the year.  Several school board members felt that they might as well wait until the beginning of next school year to allow a limited number of out of county students to attend school in the district.

No decision on the matter was reached during the meeting.

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