LOCS Board of Education reviews 2022-23 student enrollment numbers

2022 student count down 18 students from last year’s count

By Megan Kelley
Staff Writer
 LAKE ORION — During their meeting on Nov. 9, the Lake Orion Community Schools Board of Education received the district’s annual enrollment presentation from Rick Arnett, the district’s Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources.
Each year, Arnett provides the board with current enrollment numbers as well as reviews past enrollment numbers. Data provided was from count day, which took place on Oct. 5 of this year.
“As I say each year, keep in mind, enrollment is very fluid. What we have today in classrooms will not be the same tomorrow. At some point today or tomorrow we’ll have a drop or an add. Throughout the year it ebbs and flows,” Arnett said.
Arnett began with enrollment numbers broken down by building and by grade.
At the elementary level, Blanche Sims (446 total students), Carpenter (466) and Stadium Drive (465) have a student count that lands in the mid-400 range while Paint Creek (532), Orion Oaks (515) and Webber (519) are in the lower 500 range.
Both Scripps and Waldon middle schools have similar student counts with Scripps holding 548 students and Waldon housing 549 students. At Oakview however, the student count is just 406.
“If you look at Oakview, in sixth grade, you’ll notice that there’s a 160 resident students. You may recall, last spring, we made a decision to redistrict a portion of the district for middle school purposes on our southern end and we did move 37 incoming sixth grade families from what would have been Scripps to Oakview,” Arnett said. “Had we not done that, Oakview’s number, instead of 406, would have been down to 369 and that would have put Scripps up at 585. So, again, we’re trying to balance our students across the district. It does require us to occasionally look at our district boundaries.”
While the district hasn’t had to redistrict in some time, Arnett notes that it isn’t something that is uncommon for school districts to do.
Total enrollment at Lake Orion High School rounds out to 2208, Learning Options has 76 students enrolled and there are 66 students enrolled at the Pine Tree Center.
Total district enrollment adds up to 6,730 students, just 18 students less than last year’s enrollment which was 6,748.
In total, school of choice students make up 595 of the total district enrollment. In the past, the district has set their school of choice enrollment target at around 10 percent.
To better show the fluidity of school of choice, Arnett honed in on the third grade class size at Carpenter on the day of the school of choice lottery which was held in May. At the time, there were 59 resident students. If the district were to only run two sections of third grade classes, the class size would be around 29 students, above the district target of 26 and above contract max which sits at 28.
“Our commitment to schools of choice is we will never add a section because of schools of choice. We use schools of choice to fill vacant positions within a grade level,” Arnett said.
Along with the 59 resident students, there were seven SOC students and two employee children, rounding out to 68 students. The district ran three sections with a class average of 22.7 kids per grade.
Heading into the October count, the district was anticipating a drop in SOC students but an increase of a few resident students, therefore decided to offer four SOC spots.
After the official count, however, LOCS found that there was a drop of about three when it came to resident students with the four SOC spots being filled. This means that the SOC percentage in that particular grade level also increased to about 15 percent.
Projection wise, in May, the district was anticipating a larger drop in enrollment, projecting 113 less students than they ended up having come count day in October.
When it comes to class sizes, at the elementary level, 93 of the 123 sections are at or below target class size while 24 of the 123 are above target but below contract max. The other remaining six sections, which all happen to be at Webber, are above both target and contract max.
Something to note regarding SOC percentage by building is that all elementary schools are below the 10 percent target by building with the exception of Carpenter (14.38 percent) and Blanche Sims (11.21 percent)
Some discussion was stirred around SOC percentages and whether or not the district should base their target on building capacity rather than something more manageable like grade level or the district as a whole.
The current district resolution targets 10 percent SOC per building despite two of the six buildings being over that percentage.
According to Arnett, because of the fluid nature of enrollment, a 10 percent per building target is not something that can be executed.
After some back and forth, the discussion on SOC percentages was tabled and is expected to be revisited when the board votes on SOC in January.
Historically, the district has spent the last decade or so “aging out” or having more outgoing seniors than entering kindergartners. Despite this, the district still typically picks up students in other grades.
LOCS typically uses county birth rates to drive their enrollment predictions. The birth rate in 2017, the incoming kindergarten class, dropped below the birthrate from the previous three years followed by a continued decline in 2018, 2019 and 2020. Because of this, the district anticipates lower resident kindergarten enrollment in the coming years but expects to fill those seats still by picking up additional students over the years.
Though this may seem like an issue, Arnett is confident in current enrollment numbers and makes it very clear that he does not believe the district is losing enrollment because of the amount of students the district consistently picks up throughout the course of an individual graduating class’s career.
“We’re in a very good position, as far as enrollment goes, as a district,” Arnett said. “I feel very comfortable and confident in saying that. It’s a place people want to be and when they come they stay.”

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