Alpena school enrollment projections welcome news

Have enrollment numbers at Alpena Public Schools finally bottomed out?

While the answer to that question probably won’t be known for several more years, school officials believe the indicators they are studying suggest that, in the next year, the district will have reached it lowest point of enrolled students.

Beginning in the school year 2021-22, Superintendent John VanWagoner told his board this week, he expects student enrollment to begin increasing again.

“We really feel like from all the projections and everything that we professionally can get done with a non-biased opinion, we think we’re looking at essentially around that 310 to 320 (increase of students), in that area, of being our new norm, based on the birth rates that are in the county,” VanWagoner said.

Provided that his crystal ball is clearer than ours, there definitely would be cause for some optimism, then.

We would expect VanWagoner to have a clear crystal ball, since so many decisions a superintendent has to make each year revolve around enrollment issues.

How many teachers will be needed? What will be potential class sizes? Which schools might be impacted by enrollment? Those are just a sampling of the issues on which superintendents need to have a good grasp as early as they can.

VanWagoner urged everyone to be optimistic, but not to run out and spend the extra money the district would receive from the state for each of the extra students.

“We’re feeling hopeful, but they’re just projections,” he said. “We’re hoping this can be a new norm and allow us to have a sustained budget and not have to do cuts or reductions like the district has had to do for over a decade.”

Wouldn’t that be nice!