Low Enrollment Could Mean Less Funding for Alma Schools

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The Alma School District faces a loss of state funding due to a decrease in student enrollment.

About 100 less students are enrolled at Alma Schools this year in comparison to last year.

Assistant superintendent Ronnie Newton says they receive about $6,300 in state funding for each student in the district. The decrease will mean a drop of nearly $630,000.

"We have been tightening our belt for the last several years with the understanding that probably our enrollment was not going to increase quite at the rate it was previously,” Newton said. “So we have some things in place where each year we're looking at our budget and trying to trim a little bit here and trim there."

Newton says the district is working to save money on things like utilities, bus routes and fuel for buses.

The school district does not have plans to lay off faculty due to the decrease in enrollment.

“We do have every year with the number of staff that we have, we have a certain number that retire, a certain number that move off and go somewhere else,” Newton said. “So we look at those positions real carefully to see if those are positions that we might could do without and save money there."

While the school district has seen a decrease since last year, Lisa Norris with the Alma Area Chamber of Commerce says that's not the case with the town's population.

“In our overall population, we've actually seen an increase if you look at our census numbers,” Norris said. “But what we're seeing in demographics is that we have more retired people moving in and people that are also first-time homebuyers who maybe haven't started a family."

Norris says the Alma economy is strong.

“We've had businesses expand,” she said. “We recently had a 20-person expansion here. We’ve had a lot of businesses relocate for more space."

Many of Alma's neighboring school districts have either remained stable or also seen a decline in enrollment, according to Newton.

There are currently about 3,300 students enrolled this year. Newton says they are "committed to providing Alma students the education they deserve."