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When he arrives, new R-1 superintendent will face issue of dwindling enrollment

Posted on Tuesday, March 13, 2018 at 11:09 am

Scott A. Smith

Incoming Superintendent Scott Smith says he’s excited about coming to the Gasconade County R-1 School District. “It looks like you have a great school district and I’m looking forward to becoming a part of it,” he said at Thurday night’s R-1 board session.
Not so excited, perhaps, by picking up where retiring Superintendent Tracey Hankins will be leaving off July 1: Dealing with a declining enrollment and the headaches that go with that.
Indeed, Hankins has dealt with a declining enrollment all three years she has helmed the district. The upcoming school year is expected to be more of the same.
The enrollment projections outlined Thursday night to the R-1 directors shows a significant drop from the opening-day enrollment number for this school year. — from 922 this year to 885 this fall.
According to enrollment figures presented to state legislators attending R-1’s Government Day meeting Nov. 10, the district has gone from an enrollment high of 1,118 in 2005-06 to what would be the lowest number in all those years if the 885 projection holds true.
The projected drop represents about 5 percent of the total enrollment. And losing that many studnets — about 40 students — is a significant amount in terms of state funding based on Average Daily Attendance numbers.
The enrollment numbers have not looked bad at all in pre-K through 8th-Grade levels in three of the past four school years. Indeed, increases — albeit slight ones — were posted in 2014-15, 15-16 and 16-17. But according to numbers being recently considered by the Hermann Regional Economic Development Corporation, enrollment dropped sharply at preK to 8th-Grade — from 638 in 16-17 to 605 in the 17-18 school year.
Interestingly, while R-1’s enrollment in these grades dropped this school year by 33, enrollment in St. George School in pre-K through 8th-Grade increased by 37 students.
Smith, who was hired last week after the R-1 board interviewed 5 finalists a week ago Saturday, was in the audience during Hankin’s report on the enrollment projections. He is coming to R-1 after five years as the assistant superintendent of the West Plains School District in Howell County.
In other matters, the R-1 board:
• Approved the nominations of Ken Lerbs and Landon Grosse for induction in the Bearcat Memorial this fall.
Induction is held as a way of recognizing local people who made significant contributions to the school, city, state or nation. The ceremony began in 2007 and is held before the start of the first home football game.
In recent years, the district has honored two people each year.
• Heard that Hermann Elementary School has screened 42 students during kindergarten enrollment for this fall. At the time of the board meeting, there were four other students still awaiting screen.
Also, HES was scheduled to screen 22 students during pre-kindergarten enrollment. Parents of more than 20 youngsters have expressed interest in the pre-kindergarten program.
Also, as health agencies note that the flu season is peaking and the number of new cases is slowing, attendance figures from HES give a hint at how bad the flu struck the local student population this year: 40 students have missed more than 12 days this year.