(10/25/2006)
By Bob Weaver

Calhoun schools lost nine students this school year, a small number compared to other years.

School Superintendent Ron Blankenship said "While those numbers don't sound high, they could translate into losing teachers and service personnel in Calhoun County."

Blankenship said the loss of FTEs (full-time equivalents) could end up being as high as three teachers and three service personnel later this year.

Calhoun schools have lost about 500 students during the past 15 years, with a peak loss in 2000-2001 of 112.

Each student is linked to a few thousand dollars of funding.

The loss in dollars to deliver basic education and services in Calhoun County is now $3 to $4 million dollars annually, based on the loss of 500 students.

Blankenship said sparsely populated rural systems continue to be real victims of the state's long-time school funding formula.

Blankenship has frequently told board members the margin of financial survival vs. maintaining teachers, programs and services is getting slimmer.

The state's funding formula is currently being studied by the WV Legislature.

Blankenship has long made efforts to modify the state's school funding formula so rural, low-populated counties can provide a proper education.

Dr. Howard O'Cull, the Executive Director of the WV School Boards Association, says the enhancement of curriculum has been one of the main arguments and benefits of school consolidation.

But it may not be true for many rural systems that are struggling to provide services.

O'Cull says there is a real downside related to declining school enrollment.

Programs, teachers and services are being cut, and students will likely be short-changed.

"According to the Calhoun Board of Education, curricular programing adjustments may have to be made at Calhoun Middle-High School for the first time in the school's history, again based on declining school enrollments," said O'Cull.

Calhoun's Enrollment: Loss/Gain and Percentage Of Change:

1990-1991 1685
1991-1992 1700 +15 +.89%
1992-1993 1689 -11 - .65%
1993-1994 1705 +16 +.94%
1994-1995 1671 -34 -2.0%
1995-1996 1633 -38 -2.3%
1996-1997 1589 -44 -2.7%
1997-1998 1558 -31 -2.0%
1998-1999 1476 -82 -5.3%
1999-2000 1430 -46 -3.2%
2000-2001 1318 -112 -8.3%
2001-2002 1289 -29 -2.2%
2002-2003 1283 -6 -0.46%
2003-2004 1216 -67 -5.2%
2004-2005 1187 -29 -2.4%
2005-2006 1180 -7
2006-2007 1169 -9

About 35% total loss of student population.


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