Despite experiencing an increase of 130 students in enrollment this past year, the Monroe County Community School Corporation has not yet reached pre-pandemic enrollment levels, Adam Terwilliger, MCCSC director of finance and logistics, said.
Terwilliger said public school enrollment in Indiana dropped in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic and since then, MCCSC has struggled to make progress to regain those original numbers. Terwilliger said in 2020, 11,182 students were enrolled in MCCSC schools; in 2021, only 10,483 students were enrolled. He said the state experienced an enrollment drop from 2020 to 2021 of about 20,000 students among public schools; these state school patterns are mirrored in the corporation on a local level.
According to the Public Corporation Transfer Report, a report that provides information on where students go if they're not attending schools in the corporation, 245 students transferred on choice scholarship in the spring of the 2020-21 school year. Choice scholarships are awarded to students to pay for tuition at participating schools. Participating schools in Monroe County include Saint Charles Borromeo School, Adventist Christian Elementary, Covenant Christian School, Lighthouse Christian Academy and Clear Creek Christian School.
Terwilliger said MCCSC receives less funds when they have fewer students and lower attendance numbers. He said the decrease in funding can lead to a loss of teachers and resources. To combat this, he said the corporation receives additional money from the Indiana Department of Education. Last November, the community voted in favor of an MCCSC referendum that would increase property taxes to fund teacher salaries, student programs and the district overall.
“The implications of not having a referendum are dire,” Terwilliger said. “We wouldn’t be able to have the same level of staffing that we currently have to provide the same support for our students, hands down. We want to attract and retain quality staff.”
To raise enrollment numbers, Terwilliger said MCCSC is making an effort to communicate with the public and let them know what services they provide for their students. The corporation also put up ‘I Heart MCCSC’ signs last summer as part of its outreach campaign to raise awareness of what its schools have to offer.
In the years 2021-2025, the MCCSC board aims to increase funding from the community, maintain high quality learning and experiences, hire a diverse staff and provide reliable transportation. Other goals include keeping schools safe and retaining efficient communication.
“We’ve been doing a lot of work in touting our whole child framework and promoting our board’s strategic goals and priorities with access to opportunity,” Terwilliger said. “We continue to monitor these trends and work as a corporation to deliver in the best way possible to our students and to our families.”