August 28, 2003

SCR-I Not Only NEMO School Facing Declining Enrollments

A pleasant surprise just a few days before the start of school forced the Scotland County R-I District to do some last minute readjusting to accommodate a larger than anticipated incoming kindergarten class.

The district was forced to add a third section of kindergarten after the enrollment swelled to 59 first-year students at the elementary school. At the end of school last year SCR-I had just 44 students in kindergarten and early numbers from kindergarten screenings held by the elementary had indicated the district would be able to handle the incoming class with just two sections.

Fortunately in this time of tough economics for education, the school was able to make the transition internally. Sharon Triplett was shifted from the early childhood special education section for children in kindergarten to second grade to become the new instructor for the third kindergarten class.

"Our special education enrollment is down at the elementary school so we are fortunate that our other two teachers in the department will be able to step right in and pick up the slack created by the shift of Mrs. Triplett," said SCR-I Superintendent LeRoy Huff.

Despite the big jump in kindergarten enrollment, overall the district's student numbers are down once again. The first day of school saw 636 students enrolled at SCR-I. That is down 11 students from last year's opening day roll and more than 80 students below the 1999 enrollment of 719. The drop off is at the high school level where numbers are down this year from 345 in 2002 to 324 students to open 2003. With the help of the kindergarten class the elementary school numbers are up 10 from last year from 302 to 312.

Declining enrollment is the norm across northeast Missouri as all but one of the 15 schools in this corner of the state saw dwindling numbers of students over the past six years.

Since 1998 SCR-I has seen enrollment drop by more than 13 percent, or nearly 100 students.

Knox County has dropped from 686 to 595. Shelby County R-IV and Monroe City both have seen 120 student declines while Hannibal has dropped from 3,882 to 3,645 over the six-year period.

Both Revere and Wyaconda saw greater than 50-percent declines in enrollment after closing their high schools during the recording period. But even the transition of these high school students to Scotland, Clark and Lewis county schools did not help the later three to see enrollment increases.

Of the 16 northeast Missouri schools, only Palmyra saw an enrollment increase and it was only up 12 students to 1,146 in 2003.

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