School corporation optimistic on enrollment

HOPE — With the arrival of the summer break, optimism is growing within the Flat Rock-Hawcreek School Corp. regarding the 2017-18 school year.

“We are very encouraged by the early kindergarten registration, and have no reason to believe summer registration will be down,” superintendent Shawn Price said.

During the past school year, the school corporation’s enrollment increased to 863 students. That’s a 2.25-percent increase from the 844 children who were counted one year earlier.

“That may not sound like a lot. But for us, it’s a big deal,” said Price, who pointed out that higher enrollment generally increases state funding for local schools.

After several years of enrollment declines, the 2016-17 count was the first to show an increase, Price said.

Projected increases for this fall in kindergarten enrollment prompted the school board to approve hiring an additional teacher last month, Price said.

If summer enrollment numbers indicate a similar rise, the board may have to consider hiring another educator to keep a handle on student-teacher ratios, the superintendent said.

For the northeast Bartholomew County school district, that’s much better than what it experienced at the end of the 2014-15 school year. That was when a 5-percent enrollment — which resulted in decreased funding from the state — drop resulted in the layoffs of an industrial technology teacher with 18 years experience and a guidance counselor with 21 years of experience.

While the school board did approve a stipend this week to serve as an incentive for older teachers to take early retirement, Price said such incentives are offered annually.

“We usually don’t have many takers, and limit this stipend to only three teachers,” Price said.

Flatrock-Hawcreek officials maintain that the district’s comparatively small size is one of its best assets.

Hauser Jr.-Sr. High School was named one of the nation’s best, awarded a bronze medal in annual rankings compiled by U.S. News and World Report for several consecutive years.

In terms of being tech-savvy, iPad tablets were distributed to all secondary school students for the first time as part of textbook distribution two years ago.

Last fall, a new learning management system was put into place. The Canvas system is designed to give parents greater insight into their child’s learning experience, as well as provide a prompt analysis of each student’s progress.

Flat Rock-Hawcreek enrollment trends

2013-14;913

2014-15;868;-45

2015-16;844;-24

2016-17;863;+19

Author photo
Mark Webber is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at mwebber@therepublic.com or 812-379-5636.