The fall enrollment numbers are in for districts across the state. In Havre schools these numbers fell a little more than the district expected, while the rest of the Hi-Line saw numbers remain steady or even slightly increase.
Havre Public Schools has 31 fewer students in K-8 schools than last year.
This decrease can be explained by this year's high school freshman class of 171 students, about 20 more than the average class size, entering high school, leaving this year’s eighth grade surprisingly low 109 students to take their place.
Behind the eighth grade, class sizes fluctuate around the average from 143 to 159.
Even with the foreseeable loss of the large class to the high school, the loss of 31 students from last year in elementary and middle schools was more than Superintendent Andy Carlson expected.
“We weren’t expecting to lose 31, but it’s not too bad. It’s not all doom and gloom,” Carlson said. “We’re in a pretty good place, because there’s been planning.”
According to Carlson, the district receives a lot of its funding based on the number of students. Despite losing 50 students in the past three years, the district has been able to maintain the same level of funding.
However the same funding can’t buy what it used to, he said.
Carlson said the schools have had to lose six full-time teachers in the past few years, including two in the last year.
Now the district has to wait.
Carlson said he was waiting to see what the Legislature does when it convenes in January.
“It’s kind of a scary situation,” he said.
Carlson said that once this eigth-grade class enters the high school next year and the second smallest class, this year’s seniors, move out, the district will be better able to make long-term plans.
News on the Hi-Line appears less worrying.
Chester-Joplin-Inverness Public Schools has remained steady. It has lost two students from this time last year, but that number was 10 more than in 2008.
North Star schools have 12 more students this year than last fall, mostly from a kindergarten class twice the size of the first grade.
Chinook High School has stayed around 115 students for the past couple years. The elementary school gained 15 students, and the junior high gained 12 students.
Chinook Superintendent Jay Eslick said that a lot of the junior high gains were transfer students, which coincides with changes in nearby Harlem’s school numbers.
Harlem Elementary School student numbers went up by 27 from last year to 323; Harlem High School gained 10 students, but the junior high had 14 fewer students than this time last year.
The Rocky Boy school system stayed largely the same.
Rocky Boy elementary student numbers went up by two, junior high went up by six and Rocky Boy High School had four fewer students.
Rocky Boy Superintendent Voyd St. Pierre said he thought the high school lost students to other nearby schools that have more extracurricular opportunities.