Shenandoah School Administration Building

Shenandoah School Administration Building

(Shenandoah) -- COVID-19 is impacting nearly every aspect of the Shenandoah School District--including its annual report.

Superintendent Dr. Kerri Nelson presented the report during Monday afternoon's regular Shenandoah School Board meeting. One area covered in the report involves enrollment numbers. While saying the district's numbers have been steady the past three-to-four years, the superintendent says early projections indicate a decline in students for the 2020-21 school year.

"Looking at why," said Nelson, "several families have moved out of state, or in different communities. We've had some move in, but a large number moved out over the spring months. In addition to that, there's a little bit of an upswing with families who are home schooling. Until we get all of that confirmed, I'm a little reluctant to give a number to it, or estimate just how many students are down. But, I would anticipate we're down a little this year."

Speaking on KMA's "Morning Line" program Tuesday morning, Nelson says the coronavirus pandemic is impacting enrollment numbers in terms of remote learning and home schooling.

"During the months that we were closed as a system, and only doing voluntary learning, we did have families that relocated," she said. "Some of them relocated for economic reasons, or other reasons, but they're no longer in the community. COVID has had an impact that way. I would also suggest that even with our remote learning options, we have families that are trying to make decisions between whether or not they're trying to do remote, or if they want to home school. Those are valid options for them to consider. In the end, it does affect our count. Some of the interest in both the remote learning and home schooling has stemmed from COVID-19."

Nelson says COVID-19's impact is also evident in the district's free and reduced lunch rates.

"If you look at our free and reduced rate--families that are qualifying for free and reduced meals--you can see that there's been a 10% increase over the last five years of families that qualify," said Nelson. "Our current rate is 61.95% of our families qualify for free and reduced meals."

She also believes the economy has played a role in the rate's increase over the past half-decade. And, the pandemic has contributed to insufficient data in terms of the district's graduation rate. Because last school year was cut short by COVID-19, Nelson says she used the district's numbers for the 2018-19 school year.

"Our graduation rate was 98.73%--which is fantastic," she said. "It's a great graduation rate. We'd like that to be 100% every single year. Last year, in the spring, the governor and the state department (of education) allowed us to graduate all students that were in progress of making graduation prior to the shutdown. So, that will obviously inflate our graduation rate for the 2020 year."

Nelson's report also noted the district's inroads in dealing with anti-bullying and harassment issues. She also expressed concerns about the district's literacy rate. You can hear the full interview with Dr. Kerri Nelson on our "Morning Line" page at kmaland.com.

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