Garden City enrollment decreases, Holcomb increases

Meghan Flynn
Garden City Telegram
Fourth graders at Florence Wilson Elementary School sit in a school's hallway waiting or a school day to begin in August.

School enrollment numbers are in for 2021. 

Steve Karlin, USD 457 Superintendent, said numbers are down slightly this year by about 45 to 50 students. That's actually a little less than the district has lost on average over the past five years.

"From 2015-20 we have seen our enrollment decline about 566 kids, an average of about 113 a year," he said. "This year we declined at a little bit slower rate." 

In total, as of Sept. 20, there are a total of 7,312 students enrolled in USD 457. 

Broken down there are 3,184 students in the elementary schools, 814 in the intermediate schools, 1,078 in the middle schools and 2,209 in the high school.

Enrollment fluctuates all year long, some years they gain students by the end of the school year and sometimes they lose some, but it's encouraging to see that decline be a little less at the beginning of the 2021-22 school year, Karlin said. 

"We obviously don't want the numbers to decline, because our funding is based on enrollment, the services that we provide kids ultimately is based on the funds that we have available, so it's nice to be growing a little bit and not declining in enrollment," he said. "It's good to see that our decline is slowed down a little bit."

Karlin said it's hard to attributed declining enrollment to one thing, but on factor is the number of live births in Finney County. 

"If you compare the numbers from 20 years ago to what the numbers have been in the last five years, there's quite a decrease in the number of babies that are born in Finney County," he said. "We attribute a lot of that decline to that. We don't have much control over that, but it certainly has an impact on us."

In USD 363 Holcomb, enrollment numbers are increasing. 

The total number of students enrolled is 991. Broken down, there are 460 across both elementary schools, 236 in the middle school and 295 in the high school.

In 2020 Holcomb had a total of 906 students. 

Scott Myers, USD 363 Superintendent, said for the past three years there has been a decline, so he's glad to see an increase this year. 

"I know we had from last year ... like 117 exited who enrolled and were attending a year ago, so they didn't come back ... but 134 new ones showed up," he said. "It's like huh, what's that about? I'm sure it has to do with jobs, people moving around for a variety of reasons. But I heard that 117 I'm like goodness, we're in trouble, well then 134 showed up. You wouldn't think that people would be moving to Holcomb."

Numbers are important for school districts because of funding, Myers said, it determines how much a district gets, so that determines what kind of classes and services a district can offer. 

Karlin concurs. 

"That determines the services and the programs that we have, determines how many teachers we need at various levels, it determines our funding from the state," he said. "Those numbers are important to us for sure. Again, ideally, we would be level or having a slight increase, but that's why."