Avoyelles Parish School District enrollment 116 lower than last spring
Overall enrollment dropped by only four students between the official Oct. 1 and Feb. 1 enrollment counts for the Avoyelles Parish School District, but is over 100 fewer students than in February 2019.
That is actually “good news” for the district, Superintendent Blaine Dauzat said.
The second semester student count found there is 4,864 pupils in grades K-12. There were 4,868 in the Oct. 1 count.
“I hope this means we are reversing a trend,” Dauzat said. “For the past five years, we have had losses of 90 to 100 students between the Oct. 1 and Feb. 1 enrollment counts.”
Dauzat said he hopes this means “there is more trust being built between the public and the school district.”
He conceded this “break-even” enrollment could be a fluke and the district could return to “normal” next year, “so I’m not overly excited. However, whenever you buck a trend I have to say at the very least it is a positive sign.”
The School Board had adopted a budget projecting an 80-student drop in the Feb. 1 count, “so having only a four student decline will cut into the projected deficit,” Dauzat said.
The enrollment numbers don’t tell the whole story, and actually raise a puzzling question.
Elementary schools’ overall enrollment increased by 40 students -- from 2,611 in October to 2,651 in February. In the upper grades, enrollment declined by 44, from 2,257 in October to 2,213 on Feb. 1.
Dauzat said he does not know why the high school enrollment dropped, noting there were October to February declines in all four high schools.
The biggest loss was at Bunkie Magnet, which lost 20 students -- from 634 to 614. Marksville kept pace with 16 fewer students, going from 651 to 635.
Avoyelles was only five fewer and LaSAS was down by three students between the two enrollment counts.
FEB. 2019 TO FEB. 2020
Enrollment from February-to-February declined from 4,980 to 4,864 overall. Elementary enrollment declined by 70, from 2,721 to 2,651, while secondary enrollment dropped 46, from 2,259 to 2,213, for a total loss of 116 students.
Enrollment increased at Bunkie Elementary, from 310 in 2019 to 330 this year, and Bunkie Magnet High, from 561 to 614. LaSAS, a charter school within the public school district, increased enrollment slightly, from 414 in 2019 to 421 in 2020.
The school’s enrollment is fixed and does not fluctuate much from year to year. It usually has a waiting list for students wanting to transfer when there is an opening.
With the enrollment jump, Bunkie Magnet rose from being the smallest traditional high school in the parish to being only 21 students from catching Marksville High.
Had the Oct. 1 enrollment held, BMHS would be only one student behind Marksville High.
MHS remains the largest parish high school despite declining from 671 students last February to 635 now.
Avoyelles High is now the public school system’s smallest traditional secondary school with 543, compared to 613 in February 2019.
Enrollment comparisons in the other five elementary schools, with Feb. 2020 figures followed by Feb. 2019’s count, are: Cottonport, 363-391; Lafargue, 613-667; Marksville, 538-508; Plaucheville, 561-566; and Riverside, 246-279.
The district’s federally-funded pre-K programs lost 37 students -- 11 at Marksville Elementary and 26 at Plaucheville Elementary -- to go from 230 in October to 193 in February.
The drop was less from last February, when there were 214 students in the six pre-K programs.
Those enrollments are not included in the district total because the pre-K students are not considered in determining state Minimum Foundation Program allocations.
SINCE OCTOBER 2018
At the risk of mixing apples and oranges, APSD’s overall MFP enrollment is now 206 students less than it was in October 2018. Enrollment usually declines from October to February.
In the 2018-19 counts, the spring enrollment was 90 students fewer than in the fall.
One reason cited for the 202-student drop from Oct. 1, 2018 to Oct. 1, 2019 was the opening of Red River Charter Academy opened in Mansura.
The independent public charter school opened in the former Mansura High buildings, serving grades 6-8 with an enrollment of 199 students.
It will add a 9th grade next school year and another high school grade each year until it is a grade 6-12 high school.
APSD board members and officials had warned the new charter school would reduce enrollment in the public schools, resulting in a loss of state funds that could force the School Board to close one or more schools in the future.
RRCA is projecting a 2020-21 enrollment of 280 students in grades 6-9.
Dauzat said a district enrollment under 5,000 is probably the new normal for the public school system, “especially with Red River adding a high school grade each year.”