Enrollment at the Purdy R-2 School District has risen significantly since school started, reported Superintendent Jerry Lingo at the September meeting of the Purdy school board. With the first official count for the state due on Sept. 30, Lingo said the tally is now 684, up 15 from the first day.
A drop in enrollment will impact state funding, so the news was welcomed.
Elementary Principal Jeff Swadley said the increase of six students from last month, up a total of 10 from the first day, was the first rise he has reported in more than a year. Middle School Principal Janet Boys said she had 20 students transfer out and 25 transfer in. Only the high school had not followed the trend, losing eight since school started.
"We're pretty fortunate to be this close," Lingo said.
Board members got to see a tally of opening day enrollment from 2001 to 2009, showing the 2009 total was the lowest for the period. While high school enrollment is up by 10 from five years ago, the combined elementary and middle school count is down by 50. Board member Ronnie Veith observed smaller classes coming up will result in a reduced total for years to come.
Career path handbook adopted
Board members approved a 65-page handbook for students detailing six specific career paths students can choose and which courses to take. Vice said the book was designed to be used throughout a student's high school career. Counselor Jackie Rutherford said she had compiled the volume from her predecessor's work and a career path course list used across the state.
"Melissa Ball, the Crowder College A+ representative, said this is what we needed," Vice said.
Vice also reported the A+ Advisory Committee and the Partnership Planning Committee, a group of business people providing input on what the school needs to teach, will be merging this year. The first meeting will be on Oct. 13.
Supreme Court ruling reviewed
With the Missouri Supreme Court rejecting the Committee for Educational Equality's arguments for changing school funding, Lingo presented board members with a summary prepared by the committee of the legal arguments behind the decision. One of the key issues in the argument was over equal property taxes.
Judge Michael Wolff pointed out some counties base their property taxes on market value, while others use appraisal value. Wolff asserted the State Tax Commission had failed to equalize assessments as required by law, thus failing to ensure uniform taxes. Since higher state funding is affected by higher local taxation, the foundation of state funding is not equal. Wolff found the state could not rely on tax valuations for allocating state funds.
The justices found the state constitution provided the legislature with a 25-percent obligation in funding education as part of its budget. However, flexibility mandated to the legislature and to policy decisions by other branches of government did not restrict school funding to the same amount for every school district.
Education is not a fundamental right under the state or federal constitutions. The justices found variation was built into per-pupil spending and the funding formula was a rational approach to reaching that goal. Judge Wolff nonetheless found the disparity in funding between districts "absurdly unfair."
Lingo did not see how the case could advance further, nor did he think all the districts that have backed the lawsuit up to this point would support additional litigation.
"For us, I think we've stayed the course and were loyal to the cause. I'm not sure any other funding would be in order," Lingo said.
As for the legislature's recent comments of cutting funding for Career Ladder, Lingo said he thought the General Assembly would find some way to continue to stipend for teachers putting in extra hours of service.
"It would be a blow to a lot of our staff if they didn't fund that," Lingo added.
Elementary Principal Jeff Swadley said new striping had provided additional features on the elementary playground, thanks to the efforts of the Parent-Teacher-Student Organization (PTSO).
|Vice reported 83 students had signed up to participate in the A+ program. Another 58 are eligible to join the program if interested.|
Attendance to date has reached nearly 97.5 percent, higher than last year.