Even though he admitted numbers were "pretty fluid", Emmetsburg Superintendent of Schools John Joynt reported the district has 16 more students this year than a year ago. The revelation came during the monthly meeting of the Emmetsburg School Board last Wednesday evening.
"We had to certify our enrollment figures to the Department of Education on Tuesday, Oct. 15," Joynt told the board. "On that date, in the seats, we had 740 students in Pre-Kindergarten, Fourth Pre-K and K-12."
That number represents 16 more students than the 744 tallied in the 2012-13 school year.
"That figure includes resident students, open enroll in and tuitioned in students," Joynt added.
When the count looks at resident students only, the 2013-14 count is 651 students, an increase of seven from last year.
"That number is the figure that affects the taxes,"?Joynt explained. "Those are the people who actually live in the geographical boundary of our district, that the tax asking can come from."
Students who have Open Enrolled into the Emmetsburg District total 109, up 13 from last year.
Looking at the enrollment report, Joynt noted that a total of 21 students open enrolled out of the Emmetsburg district, unchanged from last year.
As the board looked at the enrollment report, it was noted that 24 students open enroll into Emmetsburg from the Graettinger-Terril district, an increase of four from last year, while 36 students open enroll in from the Ruthven-Ayrshire district, up five from last year. A total of 31 students open enroll into the district from the West Bend-Mallard district, an increase of five from last year.
"Right now, things look pretty steady for us,"?Joynt said. "There are always going to be changes in numbers, so these figures may not be 100 percent correct, because enrollment is always very fluid with people moving in and out of a district."
In other acton, the board approved a proposed early retirement program for the district.
Under the program, an early retirement option will be made available to any licensed staff member who is a full-time employee and has reached the age of 55, or will attain that age before July 1 of this year. Additionally, the applicant must have completed or will by the end of the 2013-14 school year 12 years of consecutive contracted service to the Emmetsburg Community School District.
The program would also allow for eligible retirees to continue participation in the district's health insurance program with the district paying the cost of single insurance up to $10,000 per year until the employee qualifies for Medicare coverage. Any insurance premium cost over $10,000 per year will be the responsibility of the retiree.
"If you adopt this policy, we would like to ask individuals who want to apply for consideration for early retirement to submit those applications by January 6, 2014,"?Joynt told the board. "That would allow the board time to review the applications and take action on them at the January 25 board meeting. But, a person can also apply and within seven days of making that application, they can withdraw it."
According to Joynt, one reason for the early filing date would be to give the district's administration ample time to evaluate the positions and areas affected by early retirements to determine staff needs or adjustments that could be made to shift instructors or other possibilities, including sharing arrangements, to continue to provide the educational opportunities.
"I would say go with those dates," commented Board Member Rick Brennan. "Offering an early retirement policy does benefit our school district financially, but we also do hate to lose good, experienced educators at the same time, but this is something they deserve, too."
The board approved the policy on a unanimous vote, with Board Member Kathy Roethler absent and not voting.
"I would urge the administration that if we need special meetings to evaluate changes that we do so, to make sure that we evaluate the applications and do what we have to do in the best interest of education for our students," offered Board Member Scott Kibbie.
West Elementary Principal Joe Carter provided an update on the construction project, noting that the roof deck was going on the gymnasium structure, and that masonry work was done except for the kitchen area, as support braces would not be removed until the roof bracing was installed.
"Right now, its a race against the weather for the contractor to get it enclosed," Carter said.