Enrollment continues to fall in Lyon County | NevadaAppeal.com

Enrollment continues to fall in Lyon County

Teri Vance

Once the fastest-growing county in the nation, Lyon County now holds the distinction of having one of the highest unemployment rates in the country.

And that is having an impact on the school district.

“People are leaving because of jobs,” said Superintendent Caroline McIntosh. “When a family moves, they’re gone. It’s just tragic for our folks.”

On its official count day Friday, school officials learned what they had already expected: Enrollment is continuing to decline.

On Friday – the day that determines how much money the school district receives from the state based on the number of students who are in attendance – 8,502 showed up.

That’s down 264 from last year’s 8,766 student count. Overall, it’s down 773 from the 9,275 students counted in 2007.

Fewer students means fewer teachers.

“We’ve had to have a reduction in force over the last couple of years,” McIntosh said. “This means more RIFs.”

But there are some bright spots.

The actual enrollment decline is significantly less than primary numbers indicated when only 8,301 students showed up for the first day of school this year, a 465-student drop from the first day in 2009.

Hold Harmless legislation, which ensures the school district will receive the same per pupil funding as the previous year after a drop in enrollment, will be the district’s saving grace, McIntosh said.

“That’s what is keeping us sane,” she said.

And the district is doing what it can, she said, to make cuts in other areas.

“We’re fully engaged in looking at the operating side and energy efficiencies,” she said. “Any dollars we can save we put into instruction.”

The district also is working with community agencies to help meet student needs, such as the Healthy Community Coalition that provides backpacks to those who don’t have one.

Storey County also reported an enrollment decline, dropping to 426 students this year from 448 last year. In 2008, enrollment in Storey County was at 435.