Kingsley gains students, TCAPS loses them

Oct 5, 2016

It was count day in Michigan public schools Wednesday. It's the day where public schools figure out how many students they have and how much money they’ll get from the state. State money is calculated on a per pupil basis.

Preliminary results show that Traverse City Area Public Schools lost 70 students. Last year, TCAPS had 9,594 students. This year there are 9,524.

One school, Old Mission Peninsula School, lost 20 students. Last fall, school officials recommended closing the school due to low enrollment numbers. 

"This is a trend we've been seeing in the outlying schools," says Christine Guitar, Chief of Communication for TCAPS.

Courtade Elementary School – also a school on the outskirts of the Traverse City area – lost 22 students.

Guitar is optimistic about the count numbers. She says, "overall this is good news." She says TCAPS had previously projected a loss of 104 students, and they budgeted according to that projection. Because they lost 34 fewer students than projected, they're in good shape.

She says TCAPS is actually bucking a state trend of districts losing around five percent of their students each year.

But this year, Kingsley Area Schools is very much outside that trend. The district grew by almost 50 students. They had 1,474 students counted Wednesday. Last fall, there were 1,426 students. Keith Smith, Kingsley's superintendent, says their elementary school gained 22 students, and the middle school gained 25. Smith says a couple of new kids came to the high school.

Smith says a good portion of their new students are coming to Kingsley from other districts as families take advantage of school of choice. He says the growth is a testament to Kingsley’s teachers and the education they provide.

“This year we’re starting to see people come from two and three districts away," says Smith. "We’ve got some students who live in Cadillac who come to school here. Elk Rapids. And people are driving 40 minutes to bring their kids to Kingsley." 

Smith says they haven't lost many students because of the closure of Puglsey Correctional Facility in Kingsley.

He also says they haven't really gained students from the closure of Interlochen Elementary School this past year.

"They’re really not interested in driving out to Kingsley," he says. "They want their own neighborhood school."

Kingsley school officials are interested in managing a community school for Interlochen.