The Wisconsin Rapids School District says it's anticipating a growth in student enrollment for the first time in nine years this fall. In fact, this is the first time the district is expecting student enrollment to increase since the 2005-06 academic year. Before then, enrollment had been on a steady decline since 1998, drastically dropping by 50 to 75 students each year. That's a total of almost 1,000 students.
Business Services Director Daniel Weigand says he blames the drop on the economic downturn, siting the disappearance of mill jobs and jobs associated with the mill.
Now that the economy seems to be leveling off, however, Weigand says this year they're actually expecting a five student increase. That may not seem like much, but it could mean big things for the district.
"We've been cutting staff and programs for the last fifteen years," Weigand explained. "It means, hopefully, that we won't do as much of that in the future."
Each new student the district adds means roughly $10,000 for the school. Which, if they get five new students like they anticipate, would be enough to pay a beginning teacher's salary.
Weigand says the five student number is just a guess. They won't know for sure if in fact the enrollment is up until they do a head count in September.
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