Enrollment decline dominates meeting

This graph shows the enrollment trend from the beginning of the 2020-21 school year.

Courtesy of Massac Unit District One

The drop in enrollment at Massac Unit One has been something mentioned at previous monthly board meetings but at the Jan. 27 board meeting, during Unit One Superintendent Jason Hayes' report he showed board members data showing the decline in enrollment at Unity, Jefferson and Franklin elementary schools.

According to Hayes' data, the enrollment at Franklin Elementary began dropping around the 2015-16 school year when enrollment that school year dipped to around 200. As of Jan. 27 the current enrollment is 153. The highest enrollment at Franklin was in the 2009-10 school year when there were over 225 students.

At Jefferson Elementary, the enrollment drop began around the 2014-15 school year with enrollment dropping to 145. The current enrollment at Jefferson is 105. The highest enrollment was the 2012-13 school year when there were 190 students.

Unity Elementary experienced low enrollment in the 2015-16 school year, when the total dropped to 164 students. The current enrollment is 152 students and the highest enrollment at Unity was also during the 2009-10 school year where there were 206 students enrolled.

The data presented indicated Brookport Elementary ended last school year with 185 students and at the present time has 181 students. Massac Junior High School (MJHS) ended last year with 307 students and is now at 303. Massac County High School (MCHS) ended last year with 592 students and currently has 577 students.

The only Unit One School experiencing an increase is Metropolis Elementary School, which ended last year with 529 students and at the current time has a total enrollment of 550 students.

"Not to be doom and gloom, but two-thirds of our budget comes from state funding," he said, pointing out if the enrollment continues to drop, that means less money coming in," said Hayes, adding "If this current enrollment trend continues, the state will not provide enough funding to pay for what we currently have."

The Unit One Evidence Base Funding or Evidence Based Formula Funding (EBF) is based on student enrollment. According to Hayes, more local money is not possible due to Property Tax Extension Limitation Law (PTELL), which limits the amount of funding taxing bodies can receive.

According to Hayes, EBF is the new formula for what was once called state aid, which used to be based on average daily attendance. It is now based on student enrollment.

Hayes said the district will need more revenue in taxes or have to look at cutting programs.

"This trend will slowly decrease our reserves over time as we have to use more and more local money to cover the gap from EBF.

Hayes also mentioned in his report to the board the cash on hand had dipped some, but the district has $3,036,141 on hand. He also said the district's investment is going well. In his report he indicated the district has earned approximately $14,876 from the November investments.

The district had applied for a property tax relief grant, but Hayes informed the board Unit One did not receive it.

According to Hayes, Unit One is keeping track of the communication the district has between personnel and parents and guardians and the district is on track to surpass last year's communications.

Also during the meeting a group of MJHS students gave a presentation to the board member concerning the student house leaders system at the school. There are six different houses, with names with a Latin origin.

The houses allow for students to come together and become a small community within the school and through celebration days, they bond with others and compete in a positive way.

They explained it is a way students, who might not talk or participate in class or be active in sports, can do more things and socialize.

The houses have helped in fundraising for a variety of community organizations such as Cope Food Pantry, Hope Unlimited Family Care Center, the Penny Wars, Stuff the Van, New Beginnings, Coats for Kids and Project Hope.

On celebration days the students participate in activities such as quidditch, Kahoot, chess, spelling bees, math and geography competitions and art shows.

During competitions, winning houses receive points. Points are also earned through attendance and from advanced reading points.

Metropolis resident Dena Hopkins addressed the board concerning a new scholarship, which will be given in memory of her niece, Allyson Brandy Grabowski. Hopkins explained even though her niece did not live in Metropolis, both she and her sister had attended Zach Miller's volleyball camp over the summertime for many years. "They were young, but learned more skills and leadership at that camp than any other camp," said Hopkins.

Hopkins explained her niece was killed in a car accident last summer and as a way of giving back to the community, would like to establish a scholarship for high school seniors. She said she had already spoken to MCHS Counselor Leslie Goines and Athletic Director Pat Clark regarding the specifics about starting the scholarship, which launches this May and offers $500 to students who meet the qualifications.

Applicants must be a junior or senior at Massac County High School who expect to attend a junior college, college or university or trade school in the summer or fall of the same academic year the award is made. They must have been a participant in the Massac County girls volleyball program for at least one of their high school years, be a student in good standing and have invested in their school, community, sports or church as a volunteer.

In other business, the board:

• Hired Addie Gray as MJHS personal aide and Faith Jones as MCHS junior class sponsor.

• Acknowledged Mark Mizell as a volunteer for the MJHS volleyball team.

• Approved several board policies, which had minor wording changes.

• Approved the application for a school maintenance grant, which will be used to help fund new bathrooms by the football field at MCHS. The current bathrooms are not handicapped accessible.

• Reviewed the board's closed session minutes and approved a motion approving the minutes with one correction to the Oct. 10 minutes.

• Tabled the item about installing a fence at Unity Elementary's playground until estimates can be received.

• And, the board approved a one-year expulsion of student C.

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