A frightening trend is emerging throughout west and central Texas schools – rural school districts across the state continue to struggle with declining enrollment. What is happening in some of these areas? Some schools are barely holding on while, consolidation is being forced on some school districts due to the nature of the school finance system that is heavily reliant on school enrollment/attendance to drive its funding. School districts receive the majority of their funding based on the number of students attending school every day. When I first came to San Saba 15 years ago, San Saba ISD was enjoying high enrollment with 850 students in the District. Today, the ISD is averaging approximately 711 students and some of these students are not full-time students as well. What does this mean in dollars to a school system? Approximately 139 students means roughly $738,000 dollars just in attendance dollars. The argument could be made that fewer students means that fewer staff could be needed; this is true in some departments, but the fact remains that specific subjects have to be taught at the high school thus dictating teachers regardless of the number of students, assessment requirements means staff and the ratio in the elementary grades is 22 students to 1 teacher. Additionally, regardless of the 139 fewer students, the same number of buildings or more are in operation and maintenance and custodial staff are still required. What are schools doing to cope with shrinking enrollment? The District is absorbing staff by attrition and cutting expenses continually where possible. For example, each year the District evaluates the condition of the transportation fleet and traditionally will purchase a route bus or activity bus. This year due to unstable enrollment, we will not be purchasing a much needed new bus. San Saba is a wonderful place to live and we need to do our part to bring others to our town and our school. We have great programs to offer students to help those who are struggling to those who want to get a jump on college.
Please remember that our website is the key to keeping up-to-date on school happenings. Please visit www.san-saba.net to view events and find information you need to know about SSISD. Basketball is in full swing! Please try to make it to a 7/8 grade game at the White gym on Monday nights, or catch a game at Armadillo Arena on Tuesday or Friday nights. If you have any questions about this article or any other question about school happenings please contact me at 325/372-3144.