Archived Story

Enrollment off, flu felt

Published 8:44am Wednesday, October 21, 2009

By JOHN EBY
Dowagiac Daily News

Dowagiac’s fourth Friday enrollment, 2,449, fell 71 from the 2008-2009 school year. The district projected a loss of 60, so “we had an additional 11 on top of that,” Superintendent Peg Stowers reported to the school board Oct. 19 at Sister Lakes Elementary School.

“Our students are not leaving because of Schools of Choice” to attend another nearby district, she said.

“They’re leaving the area.”

Asked about the presence of H1N1 in the Dowagiac school system, Stowers said this morning, “We have not received any confirmed doctor’s notes stating H1N1. However, several homes have reported that doctors have told them they have it. We have received notice about Influenze A, in which H1N1 falls.

“This I know: We have the flu in Dowagiac, and we are working with it and trying our best to keep everyone healthy.”

She told the school board the administration was “monitoring high absenteeism, including our staff. We continue to send letters to parents about what they can do at home. We brought in extra custodial help to do some extra sanitizing on our buildings” in addition to placing disinfectant in classrooms.

On enrollment, “I spoke with Al Pscholka (an aide to U.S. Rep. Fred Upton) and (state Rep.) John Proos (R-St. Joseph) last week at the legislative breakfast. Both asked me what it would take to keep Dowagiac growing. I said, ‘Jobs. We need employment.’ It’s sad we’re losing students. I think enrollment’s as low as it’s been in my 30 years in Dowagiac,” Stowers said.

“Michigan took away $165 per student for all of our public schools. That’s $260,000 to add as a deficit. We have to anticipate this is the first of several reductions in state aid. We’re already being warned there’s potentially another $165 to be pro-rated in January or February. That is truly detrimental to not only Dowagiac, but to other school districts. We’re told that in 2010-2011 we can anticipate something between $400 and $700 per student,” which would translate into $980,000 to $1.7 million lost in state aid.
“That’s very, very scary,” Stowers said.

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