Attendance numbers down in Demopolis, county schools

Published 4:08 pm Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Student attendance in Demopolis City and Marengo County Schools is slightly down from last year.

Attendance in the Demopolis City Schools system is down about 30 to 40 students from last year, and Superintendent Dr. Al Griffin said that will mean the system as a whole could lose around one teaching unit for next year.

“It won’t be a whole unit at any one school,” Griffin said. “It will be partial units at each school.”

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Teaching units for the 2014-2015 school year are determined by a school’s attendance for the first 20 days after Labor Day of the current school year.

Griffin said the decline in attendance is normal, as it fluctuates from year to year.

“We’ve had some smaller classes coming through, and we have a large group at the middle school right now,” he said. “But it fluctuates.”

He added that he is optimistic that the divisors will be lowered during the next legislative cycle so the system will be able to keep that teaching unit.

“Depending on what happens in the next legislative cycle, we’re hoping the divisors are lowered, and we can actually add a couple of teachers at the middle school,” Griffin said. “If that doesn’t change, we should be able to make up for it with federal funds.”

The Demopolis City Schools system has been steady around 2,300 students since the 2009-10 school year, when the system had around 2,400 students.

Luke Hallmark, superintendent of Marengo County Schools, said his schools are down by around 10 students this year.

“It all depends on the legislature,” Hallmark said. “If they change the divisors to where they were a few years ago, we could end up gaining some units.”

Hallmark said A.L. Johnson’s average daily attendance only went down by three students, John Essex’s went down by around 14, Marengo High’s went down by 25. The only school to see an increase in attendance was Sweet Water, which gained 31 students over last year.

“Sweet Water may gain a little over two units, while Marengo could lose around two, John Essex could lose around one and A.L. Johnson will stay about the same,” he said. “Throughout the Blackbelt region, though, enrollment has declined since around 2000. All rural school systems in our area are going through this.”