AMORY – During Nov. 11’s Amory School Board meeting, district superintendent Ken Byars gave a localized report of a statewide trend – a decrease in student enrollment.
“Coming off the heels of our A rating celebration, I’ve been watching a trend. From 2003-04 to the current year, enrollment has been declining across the state, but this one is alarming,” he said.
He showed a bar graph mapping student enrollment in the district for the last 16 years, which reached 1,900 students during the 2006-07 school year and has shown a decline every year since, except for 2016-17 when enrollment topped 1,750 students. The steepest declines have occurred since then to the current count of a little more than 1,600 students.
“Amory [School District] is landlocked. We can’t move or expand anywhere. Other districts have decided not to release students to Amory. The number of students attending from out of the district is declining,” Byars said.
Byars said only 15 school districts across Mississippi did not decrease in student population during the years reflected on the bar graph.
“Our funding is affected to the tune of $5,000 per student. Fortunately, we haven’t had to release any staff so far,” he said.
Byars said he will study the situation in-depth during the coming months.
“What has to change is what’s available within the school district. People aren’t leaving because the school district isn’t successful,” he said.
Byars expressed the need for partnering with municipal bodies to build a base to attract and nurture growth for the district.
In other business, Byars requested approval for the district’s food service department to accept a USDA Food Service Equipment Grant to go towards the purchase of a new walk-in freezer for the West Amory Elementary School kitchen.
“This is part of [Food Service Director] Steve Stockton’s continuing effort to replace equipment that is aging. It’s a huge need,” Byars said.