Michigan’s trend of declining school-age population doesn’t seem to be impacting schools and classrooms at Godfrey-Lee. Guess we didn’t get the memo. So far this new school year, we’re projecting that enrollment will be higher by at least another thirty students over last year, fifty-five more than planned for in our budget and staffing calculations.
This will be the sixth consecutive year district enrollment has grown, and sixteenth out of the past twenty-two years. We had an enrollment of 1,171 students in 1993-94 but since then have steadily grown by 64.8% to the current expected enrollment of 1,930. This does not include shared time or adult education. It’s quite clear that a growing number of parents see the value of our small district, the programs we have to offer, and the education their children are receiving.
This year’s growth has been a surprise. The district realized a gain of 100 students (5.6% increase) last year and because of that, the Board approved trimming back the number of available seats for schools-of-choice this year. That decision coupled with the statewide trend of declining enrollments led to our plan to budget for an actual small decrease in enrollment this year to ensure we can continue to provide quality programs. In addition, we’re utilizing every classroom space available including some areas that were not designed for regular classroom use.
With growth comes continuing academic challenges which have proven costly and come at a time when the state not only has cut real dollars for core academic programs, but has failed to even keep up with the rate of inflation and growing legacy costs dating back to 1994. Adjusting for inflation (Detroit Consumer Price Index), the district now receives a foundation allowance that is 15.4% lower than it was twenty years ago, yet everyday costs have been rising faster than revenues leading to cutbacks in many needed programs along with larger class sizes.
Despite the growth and diminishing finances, our collective goal is and will continue to be to meet every student where they are at and provide each with the learning experiences they need to be college and career ready by the time they graduate. Our professional staff is dedicated to meeting the challenges we face and continuing a 157-year legacy of success at Godfrey-Lee.