GALLATIN COUNTY — Back when a lot of controversial decisions were being made regarding the schools, a lot of parents alleged they would take their kids out of the district.
Here are a few comments from parents at previous school board meetings in Bozeman:
- “My husband and I are pulling our son out of the school system.”
- “If you move forward with this policy, the concern is that more students are going to leave public schools.”
- “And I am going to be pulling all three of my children out of school.”
But how many students did school districts lose and what are the initial impacts?
"It was not significant in the spring of 2020, but it was extremely significant in the summer of 2020 going into that school year," notes Gallatin County Superintendent of Schools, Matthew Henry
Henry is referring to the decrease in students in public schools across Gallatin County.
- In the 2019-2020 school year, elementary schools within Gallatin County had 10,120 students.
- The next school year, (20-21), elementary schools saw a decrease to 9,530 students
- And this current school year, (21-22), elementary schools saw an increase to 9,893 students.
- Still not as much as the 2019-2020 school year, but on the right track towards it.
But for high schools, however, there was never an enrollment decrease. There’s been a steady increase.
- In the 2019-2020 school year, high schools within the county had 3,955 students.
- In 20-21, enrollment increased to 4,072 students
- And this current school year, enrollment increased to 4,269 students.
And the big question is how much an impact are these changing enrollment numbers causing, as we know enrollment numbers do affect state funding.
“The big decrease in 2021 was six percent, and that’s rebounded by four percent so people would have to leave in significant numbers, I think, for it to affect the school district depending on the size of the school district," Henry said. "So I think the way that would look is maybe they consolidate some classes, and there are fewer teachers. But I don’t think you’d see a significant financial impact on a school district at these numbers.”
The enrollment numbers were provided by the Gallatin County Public Schools Office.