|By Bob Weaver|
Dropping school enrollment continues to create serious financial problems for West Virginia schools, including Calhoun. State enrollment numbers have been dropping for several years.
Taxpayer funding with the state's school systems is based on enrollment, the School Funding Formula.
Calhoun is among a dozen or so counties that cannot pass a levy to support public education, further creating a financial crunch.
Voters recently turned down a small two year levy that would have been directed mostly toward student services.
Calhoun Schools enrollment has dropped to an all-time low below 1,000, with 971 students, a drop from the previous year of 57, according to Calhoun Schools Superintendent Kelli Whytsell.
Ritchie County's drop was the largest in percentage, at about 7 percent.
Calhoun's public school numbers have also declined with 84 students being home schooled.
The academic requirements for home schooling have been dramatically reduced in West Virginia, including not being required to re-apply every year and only being required to turn in assessments at certain grades.
A number of parents have opted to educate their children at the Little Kanawha Christian School at Big Bend, which has 53 students from a three county area. Those numbers are not included in the home schooling figure.
In 1991-92 the public school enrollment in Calhoun was 1,700 students.
See CALHOUN SCHOOL ENROLLMENT DROPS BELOW 1,000 - Student Decline Causes State Funding Shortfall
West Virginia's state Schools Superintendent Steve Paine said that public prekindergarten-12th grade enrollment dropped 4,858 students from last school year to this one, including a 544-student drop in Kanawha County.
This reduction, the largest one-year enrollment drop since the 2000-01 school year, will likely reduce statewide school funding next school year by millions of dollars if lawmakers don't change the state school aid funding formula.
A state Department of Education-provided document estimated 2,252 of the lost students were due to declining birth rates. It also said 707 more students withdrew from public school for this school year than last school year to attend private schools or to be home-schooled.
A number of issues with pre-school enrollment have affected the numbers.
Paine also said at a state Board of Education meeting that 54,000 students, about a fifth of the statewide enrollment, missed more than 18 days last school year. Eighteen days is roughly a tenth of a school year.