Carson City School District forecasts declining enrollment

Carson City School District Superintendent Andrew Feuling presented Carson City School District’s historical funded enrollment data according to student enrollment from 1990-91 to 2023-24 in his first State of the District address on Feb. 13.

Carson City School District Superintendent Andrew Feuling presented Carson City School District’s historical funded enrollment data according to student enrollment from 1990-91 to 2023-24 in his first State of the District address on Feb. 13.
Carson City School District

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Diminished birth rates and increasing housing prices will impact growth among the Carson City School District, Superintendent Andrew Feuling forecast in his State of the District message Feb. 13.

Even with new construction, the city is not seeing the number of students the Carson City School District expects. Housing affordability still presents its challenges and this is expected to take a toll for new families with children entering public schools, he said.

“It really gave me pause in terms of … being really cognizant of taking advantage of opportunities as they present themselves to make changes within the district; structural changes and how we operate within the district because clearly there’s going to be pressure over time as enrollments fall,” Feuling said.

The state’s Pupil-Centered Funding Plan ties school district funding and program support to student enrollment. Feuling told the board this year’s junior class has 620 students, while the kindergarten class has 410 students, the smallest it has ever seen. If the kindergarten class graduated in 2035-36 on this projected path, there is an anticipated per-pupil reduction in funding of $15 million for CCSD due to a decline in enrollment.

“It’s an incredible reduction in students in the district,” Feuling said.

Also in his message, Feuling provided an update on current district demographics, describing Carson City as a majority-minority district. Carson City in 2022-23 showed 46% of its students were Hispanic and 44% were white. In 2022-23, about 14% of students identified as special education, 12% were English learners and 70% qualified for free and reduced lunch. The FRL program was an estimate, Feuling said, since students have been receiving access to school meals through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National School Lunch Program that began during COVID-19.

The district had a mid-range transient population compared to other rural populations in the state, Feuling said, with about 17.9% of students not finishing the school year in the same site as they started.

“It’s just a really difficult thing for a kid,” he said. “They need consistency to be able to have to maximize growth and Nevada, I think, as we know, it is a transient state. People come and they go.”

Elementary class size ratios averages remain in line with other districts, and graduation rates also have remained consistent. Graduation rates have slowly increased from about 75% for the class of 2013 to 80.6% with last year’s class. The peak was 86.7% from the class of 2019 before the pandemic.

CCSD’s attendance rate has dropped, which is a national issue, and is related to its chronic absenteeism issue. Chronically absent students include students who are absent for 10% or more of their enrolled school days. Data provided on the Nevada Department of Education’s Nevada State Report website indicates Carson City’s chronic absenteeism rate of 28.8%, Feuling said. This is lower than the state average of 34.9% but is higher than the pre-pandemic 2018-19 state rate of 18.8%.

District staff totals 938 in all, with Carson City spending approximately $1.5 million of its total budget on administrators.

Finally, the district has spent approximately 99% of its Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund I and II federal grant funds from the American Rescue Plan Act provided as an investment into local schools.

Feuling’s message was well received by Trustee Matt Clapham, now in his second year on the board. Clapham told the Appeal Thursday morning he felt Feuling has a good vision for the district in terms of what can be measured and what can’t.

“Just keeping kids involved, those things are not measurable,” he said. “The debate club, that’s not measurable. When you go in and hear these people talk, man, they’re showing off their skills and that’s what they learned in the Carson City School District, the (Future Business Leaders of America) and the runners and the athletes — these kids are good kids, but that’s not measurable.”

Clapham works as a juvenile probation officer and said he focuses on encouraging greater accountability to children in the home. He also agreed with Feuling’s information about staff survey results.

“I think teachers go into teaching nine times out of 10 because they understand, ‘I’m not going to be a millionaire but because I like helping kids,’” he said. “I think possibly we could retain teachers if we have less behavior problems … They want to deal with what they’re passionate about. I think the schools are doing what they can.”

He said he has faith in Carson City’s school leadership and the direction it’s heading for its students.

“Is there room to grow?” he said. “Absolutely. But we’re always striving to be better and we’re meeting the needs of the kids and the staff and the intentions are good. That’s something I really would hit on and as long as intentions are doing what’s right for the kids, then we’re in a good place.”


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