Monroe schools could rezone and consolidate on a 10-year projection
Schools in the city of Monroe may need to make adjustments like rezoning or consolidating facilities over the next decade, according to a recent report on expected enrollment over the next 10 years.
Mike Hefner, chief demographer at Geographic Planning and Demographic Services LLC, compiled the 47-page report that estimates enrollment through the 2029-30 school year. He presented it to the Monroe City School Board at a meeting on June 23.
Overall, the neighborhood could have 35 more students in 2029-30 than in 2019-20. This rise, he said, is basically level.
However, several schools in the Neville High School Food Route are expected to meet or exceed the facility’s practical capacity and ideal enrollment numbers to avoid overcrowding and straining available services.
It is estimated that several schools in the Wossman and Carroll high-performance trails have enrollments well below available capacity.
Hefner said each school has fixed costs, like managing buses and providing child care staff. He suggested that the Monroe City School Board and staff consider mitigation efforts to avoid extremes so that schools are not underpopulated or overcrowded.
He said zoning changes are an option, but he knows it’s not an easy decision. He also suggested implementing Magnet programs or considering long-term consolidations.
Hefner said these decisions are difficult and can be costly to make.
The board did not discuss potential plans with the new information during the meeting.
The story continues below the graph.
Hefner said unless there is a new charter school opening or something like a natural disaster that drastically affects enrollment, the district should remain stable.
In his report, he said low levels of disposable income prevent families from seeking to enroll in a private school. The city’s average income is lower than the parish and state averages.
In his report, Hefner referred to the October 1, 2019 state tally to determine the minimum core program funds, which were 8,138, after registrations at Sherrouse and through the central office were removed from the total for the program. district.
Sherrouse is an alternative program that does not have standard enrollment or does not belong to a specific stream for high schools in the district.
Likewise, students enrolled through the central office usually receive special education or physiotherapy services at home.
As of February 1, 2020, the district had 8,204, not counting registrations at Sherrouse or at the central office.
According to the new population estimates, Monroe is expected to enroll 8,173 in 2029-30.
A recent analysis by The News-Star of enrollments for the 13 public school districts in northeast Louisiana showed a steady decline in enrollment for the majority of districts from October 2016 to February.
Monroe was one of two districts that saw a slight increase in enrollment for the 2019-2020 school year.
Hefner noted that the effects of COVID-19 on businesses could affect results and require reconsideration later, and he said the first five years or projections should be considered more accurate than the last five years.
Changes by school
Schools in the town of Monroe operate with feeding models specific to its three high schools.
The estimated changes per track are:
- Carroll: -235
- Wossman: -98
- Neville: +357
Eight schools are expected to have an increase in enrollment by the 2029-30 school year or maintain the same number of students.
- Neville High: 223
- Cypress Point Elementary: 115
- Berg Jones Elementary: 86
- Lee Junior High: 63
- Bombing Elemental: 19
- JS Clark Elementary: 11
- Madison James Foster Elementary: 6
- Elementary Jefferson: 0
Ten schools are expected to lose students over the next decade.
- Elemental Carver: -191
- High Wossman: -69
- Minnie Ruffin Elementary: -52
- Martin Luther King Jr. Junior High: -48
- Lexington Elementary: -44
- Carroll High: -30
- Carroll Junior High: -17
- Elementary Barkdull Faulk: -16
- Clara Hall Elementary: -14
- Sallie Humble Elemental: -6
The report notes that some schools could see their enrollment decline, leaving them underpopulated, resulting in a significantly higher cost per student than other schools. (Practical capacity and ideal enrollment were determined using data compiled from 2006 to 2010, including average, low and high enrollments for that period, in conjunction with feedback from directors and central office staff .)
Carver Elementary, for example, could end 121 students, or 300 children less than the facility can accommodate.
Neville High School is expected to add approximately 223 students. At the MFP count of February 2020, the school had 962 enrolled. The ideal strength and practical capacity were both 850.
Create savings on debt
At the same meeting, the board of directors also agreed to repay $ 38,000,000 of general bonds created by a 2013 proposal. Originally, $ 58,800,000 was issued in 2014, 2015 and 2016. The average interest rate was 3.68% and they are expected to be liquidated from 2034 to 2036.
Bill Boles, a lawyer who helps the board issue bonds, presented the request to the board. He said interest rates have gotten very low and a new issue can save around $ 1.3 million in total.
The board has approved Boles to appear before the State Bond Commission, and he will return to the board with final approval.
District III board member Bill Willson made a presentation on the issue to the MCSB finance committee on June 17 before it was sent to the full board for consideration. He said he believed the district could save a large amount of money by refinancing at current rates and urged the urgency of locking in interest rates on AA board bonds.