Healy USD 468’s headcount this year for K-12 could set a record low of 52, which would be a drop by about seven from a year ago.
Superintendent/Principal/Counselor Cheryl Cook viewed the student number as disappointing but not devastating for the western Kansas district.
“We’re pretty set on promoting the district,” she said Tuesday morning.
The district gets some students from Dighton, Scott City, and Leoti, she said. “They want a smaller school,” she said.
This year’s high school senior class at Healy has a boy and a girl. The freshman class has three students, and no high school class has above six students, Cook said.
Classes are combined -- such as pre-kindergarten and kindergarten, Grades 1 and 2, and Grades 3, 4, and 5. Healy cooperates with Western Plains USD 106 for sports. Western Plains also is small but it has over 115 in pre-kindergarten through Grade 12, for an increase this year.
Healy appears to be the smallest district this year in Kansas, but other districts have fewer than 100 students, too.
Hamilton USD 390 in southeast Kansas has 61 in pre-kindergarten through Grade 12, an increase by two, according to the district. There’s only one girl in the three-member freshman class, but the sophomore class has eight students.
Lamar Bergsten, at Triplains USD 275 in Logan County in the state’s northwest region, said the enrollment there has been stable in recent years. The K-12 headcount is 66 this year, an increase that can be counted on one hand.
Triplains encompasses 660 square miles, said Bergsten, who is the superintendent and principal and handles some coaching duties.
Asked about school district consolidation for particularly small school districts, Mark Tallman, associate executive director of the Kansas Association of School Boards/Advocacy and Communications Services, said an efficiency study found the savings for consolidating small districts in underpopulated areas are not necessarily that great.
Low-enrollment weighting funds account for less than $200 million in the state’s $6.4 billion for annual school funding, and those low-enrollment dollars are divided among many school districts.
The question to consider is whether those small schools can provide the right level of education for their kids to be successful, Tallman said. He said he isn’t aware of any study that shows that the kids from those schools are at a significant disadvantage.
It is hard to offer the breadth of curriculum and programs at small schools but those students get an extremely personalized level of education, he said.