To the editor:
Budget season is now upon us. I know this because a sub-headline in a local newspaper piqued my interest. It read, “Tiverton gets started on school budget.”
Being open-minded and also someone who likes to see both sides of a topic, I was surprised to read that the projected student population will be 1,925 next year, which is the same as this year for Tiverton. My surprise came about because I had thought enrollment had been declining over the past few years. Adding to this is information garnered from news reports that area schools have also experienced declines and some were contemplating closures or in fact have closed schools.
I decided to get facts from the Daily Attendance report as reported by school departments to the R.I. Department of Education. The number of enrolled students in Tiverton totaled 1,838 in January, down from 1,853 in September. I do not know if enrolled students includes disabled students attending programs elsewhere. If so, it would account for some of the difference. However, the difference is 87 students.
A second report called the October Report shows a declining student population for the past eight years. In the 2006-07 school year there were 2,123 students versus a reported enrolled population of 1,873 this past October.
I am sure the differences noted above, current and projected population of 1,925 vs 1,873 on the October report vs 1,838 as reported on the Daily Attendance report as recently as January can be reconciled.
Two things are certain. First, there seems to be some confusion regarding how many students we are educating. Second, the school population is trending downward. I feel these two factors are important, as the projected population and recent population trends will impact decisions concerning the budget request.