PARKERSBURG - Officials say a drop in enrollment for Wood County Schools could spell job cuts at the beginning of next year.
The district's enrollment was down 136 students as of Oct. 22, said Sue Woodward, assistant superintendent of school services. The district has 13,326 students enrolled, down from 13,462 the previous year.
Superintendent Pat Law has warned the Wood County Board of Education a decline in enrollment means less state funding and the possibility of position reductions. Law was at a meeting in Charleston Wednesday and was unavailable for comment.
The state uses second-month enrollment numbers to determine how much money is allotted to school systems. Those per-pupil-expenditures are used to determine staffing.
"That is the financial planning for the school year," Woodward said.
Officials will begin in December looking at how those numbers will affect staffing. The Wood County Board of Education will be asked to approved staffing goals for the new school year in early 2013.
"Depending on how it pans out, it would be anywhere from 7-9 professional positions," lost for the 2013-14 school year, she said.
That decline in enrollment may be a trend which continues into the coming years. Woodward said enrollment numbers for elementary schools continue to be lower than those for secondary schools. For example, kindergarten through fifth-grade enrollment numbers for the county tend to be about 900-1,000 students per grade, while current enrollments for grades 9-12 are each more than 1,000 students.
As those lower grades move up each year, replacing larger classes which are graduating, overall enrollment is expected to decline even further, she said.
Another factor also has led to a decline in enrollment: Pre-kindergarten programs.
Up until last year the school system was adding pre-kindergarten programs, which bolstered the district's declining enrollment and kept the numbers fairly level. Last year the school system reached "universal enrollment" with pre-kindergarten, meaning it had enough classes to meet the needs of students who wished to participate.
"We didn't add any new classes this year. We didn't need to," Woodward said. "That source of new students is no longer providing those new numbers."