CHIPLEY — The numbers are in, and they’re lower than expected.
That is what the Washington County School Board was told Monday by Superintendent Sandra Cook.
“We’re down by 13 students, overall,” Cook said. “There are a lot of contributing factors, including a growing private school here in Washington County.”
Some programs at Washington-Holmes Technical Center have also seen a decrease in attendance, but they are expected to pick back up soon, Director Martha Compton said. However, the heavy machinery maintenance program and the public safety programs have both seen decreases in enrollment.
“We’re doing a little better than we were at the end of the school year, but we had hoped we’d be up a little more,” Cook said.
Chipley High School added four students over last year’s numbers, increasing to 580, while Vernon High School added two students for a total of 392. Roulhac Middle School dropped five students, down to 623 enrolled, while Vernon Middle School added 12 to bring their enrollment up to 456.
The biggest loss of children enrolled was at Kate M. Smith Elementary, where the numbers dropped by 47, down from 2011’s enrollment of 837 to 790 this year.
Principal Lesa Burdeshaw noted that the school had lost a large group of fourth graders and the incoming kindergarten classes were smaller than usual.
Six students who had left to attend a private school returned to Kate M. Smith, she added.
Vernon Elementary School was down by 2 students with 551 enrolled, and the WISE program showed an increase of 23 students, bringing the program’s student body up to 66, over the 43 enrolled in 2011.
Okeechobee enrollment was down 12, for a total of 106 students, and WHTC was down a total of 95 students for an enrollment of 320, as compared to 415 enrolled in 2011.
The Washington County School Board adopted the year’s millage rate and the 2012-13 budget Monday in a public hearing which preceded the September board meeting.
The millage rate is less than the 2011-12 rate at 7.975 mills, District Finance Director Lucy Carmichael told the board.
The board approved Resolution 12-03, adopting the millage rate and breaking it down into components. The board also approved the final budget of more than $92 million.
Cook also announced that the schools would be celebrating Patriot’s Day on Sept. 17 and Celebrate Freedom Week will be from Sept. 17 to Sept. 22.
On the consent agenda, the board approved all items except the Universal Free Breakfast program. The board unanimously voted “no” for that program.
According to Food Research and Action Center information, The School Breakfast Program (SBP), authorized by the Child Nutrition Act of 1966, started as a pilot program to provide funding for school breakfasts in poor areas and areas where children had to travel great distances to school. The intent was to provide a nutritious breakfast to children who might otherwise not receive one.
According to the internet, the following Florida districts participate in the Universal Free Breakfast Program: Franklin, Brevard, Collier, Dade, Gadsden, Glades, Hendry,
Hillsborough, Jackson, Jefferson, Putnam, Highlands, and Lee.
Board Member Vann Brock called the item out for discussion, and Superintendent Cook forwarded the program to the board “as presented.”
Brock said the board had discussed the program before. “The cost compared to the rewards just makes the program not feasible,” he said.