Washington Evening Journal
111 North Marion Avenue
Washington, IA 52353
Fairfield school district faces declining enrollment
FAIRFIELD — The Fairfield Community School District Board of Directors met Monday night and discussed a number of topics, one of which was the enrollment figures for Fairfield.
The school district’s enrollment as of March 14 was 1,557. It has 480 at the high school, 456 at the middle school, 333 at Pence Elementary School and 288 at Washington Elementary School (including Community Child Care). Its open enrollment figures show that 114 students are open enrolling into the district, while 197 are enrolling out.
As a point of comparison, Fairfield’s certified enrollment was 1,752 in October 2009.
Fairfield School Superintendent Laurie Noll addressed the issue of enrollment in her superintendent report, and with the school board members Monday night. Noll noted that the district’s certified enrollment for fiscal year 2022 is about 1,568, which is down 39.1 students from the year before. Though schools across Iowa will see an increase of 3 percent in Supplemental State Aid, it will not be enough to offset the declining enrollment in Fairfield.
Fairfield’s school district will receive $119,156 in new money from the state, but its enrollment decline will cause it to receive $236,685 less for the 2023-2024 school year. The state gives school districts $7,635 per student.
Noll noted that Fairfield’s class sizes appear to be shrinking, too. This year’s graduating class is expected to be 131 students, while the number of new students projected to start kindergarten this fall is 100.
Fairfield school board president Christi Welsh said the board will need to keep its eye on those enrollment figures, since they will affect how the district plans its finances for the upcoming years.
Noll said she is aware there are 13 open teaching positions within the district, and the buildings with open positions have been asked to “absorb” those openings, meaning they are not filled, as opposed to giving a current employee a pink slip. The open positions that will be eliminated through absorption include at least one at the high school, at least four at the middle school, at least two at Pence and at least one at Washington. Furthermore, the middle school has been asked to reconfigure its “team time,” because the district can no longer afford this expense.
“With the low SSA coming in and the declining enrollment, to try to keep some of those things up, it’s difficult to do,” Noll said. “Especially when we’re still providing funding for teachers and being able to pay them.”
On top of the dip in enrollment resulting in less money for the district, Noll said the district learned that its school health insurance premiums through Mercer Trust would increase 8.1 percent, costing the district another $210,000. This money would come from the district’s general fund.
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