MUNCIE — At the end of the 2016-17 school year, 5,570 students were attending Muncie Community Schools.
The head count at MCS last Friday was 5,076, a decrease of 494 students or nearly nine percent. But that remains a preliminary figure. The official count doesn't take place until Sept. 15.
Still, state-appointed emergency manager Steve Edwards told the school board on Tuesday night that he is "very, very concerned" about the loss of students, even if it's not as many as 494.
That's because fewer students means the district, which expects to run out of cash this fall, will receive fewer dollars from the state for its general fund. (Transportation, debt service, bus replacement and capital projects are funded by property taxes).
The state appropriates around $6,700 to MCS per pupil, he said. Thus a loss of 494 students would cost the deficit-ridden school district more than $3 million this academic year.
Some of Ball State University's international students with children have not yet enrolled at MCS, according to Superintendent Steve Baule.
"You're always concerned when you lose students," Cassandra Shipp, the school district's director of secondary education, told The Star Press after the meeting. She is researching the causes, including how many transferred to other schools and how many are being home schooled.
Negative publicity isn't helping enrollment, added Dea Young, director of elementary education.