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Grand Rapids Public Schools could lose more than $1million due to enrollment decline

School desks
Flickr user Frank Juarez/Flickr
School desks

The Grand Rapids Public School District could lose more than a million dollars due to a drop in enrollment.

Michigan schools are funded based on the number of students – or per pupil funded. So, fewer students mean less money for the district.

The fall “Count Day” tally showed there were 115 fewer students this year compared to last year, and that the district had anticipated an increase of 50 students.

Because the district receives $7,631 per student, the district could lose $1.2 million from its annual budget.

John Helmholdt is the communications director with the school district. He says the numbers won't become official for another 30 days.

Helmholdt says the city's lack of affordable housing and immigration concerns were big reasons behind the enrollment decline.

“We care most about how we support our students and families, especially during these times of need,” Helmholdt said.

Helmholdt says the school district is currently looking for ways to help families find affordable housing and that the district supports students facing immigration issues.

“The district has been vocal about its support for DACA students and those families facing deportation threats,” he said.

Helmholdt says before 2016, the district had to find ways to deal with declining enrollment for 20 straight years.

“We closed 35 schools and eliminated 1,000 jobs and cut a hundred million dollars out of our budget over that period of time,” he said.

Helmholdt doesn't believe the district will need to resort to drastic cuts like those again.

Bryce Huffman was Michigan Radio’s West Michigan Reporter and host of Same Same Different. He is currently a reporter for Bridge Detroit.
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