Enrollment drop may impact funding for Muncie schools

Tables, chairs and equipment sit inside a Muncie Community schools facility. (WISH Photo)

MUNCIE, Ind. (WISH) – There’s another potential setback for Muncie Community Schools as district leaders work to balance the budget.

Emergency managers said they are expecting to receive significantly less money from the state this year as enrollment continues to decline. More empty seats mean more financial issues for Muncie Community Schools.

“The greater the loss of students, the greater the impact on the budget for Muncie schools,” said Stephen Edwards with Administrator Assistance. Administrator Assistance was selected by the state in June to serve as the district’s emergency manager.

As of Wednesday, the loss of student enrollment for the 2017-2018 school year is projected to be in the hundreds. The official count day isn’t until Sept. 15, but Edwards said they are preparing for a loss. It was discussed at a school board meeting on Tuesday.

“It is always a little risky when one looks at preliminary student enrollment numbers, but the number they used last night, the number of students sitting in seats today compared to a count they had in May … they were down about 494 students,” Edwards said.

He said the district gets around $6,700 per student from the state, so a drop in enrollment like that could mean a loss of around $3 million.

All of this comes as the district faces a multimillion-dollar deficit. They’ve already had to make cuts that included the closure of three elementary schools before the start of this school year.

The district was already projected to run out of money in September, but Administrator Assistance has been able to prolong that for another month or two. The immediate focus has turned to securing loans.

If loans are not secured in time, Edwards said, the first priority would be to make payroll. After that, they’d most likely have to delay payments to their vendors. He said a lot of work is being done to make sure it doesn’t get to that point. A larger deficit reduction plan for 2018 is already in the works.

Never miss another Facebook post from WISH-TV