Sidney Schools Initial Enrollment Numbers Show Little Change


August 24, 2018

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Sidney students have a number of opportunities to take college- and work-bound classes, such as SRTV. Students are back in school, and in numbers that have been pleasantly surprising.

As the Cabela's and Bass Pro relationship became apparent, community services, including school districts, kept a wary eye on their enrollments. The concern was would the purchase lead to consolidating staff and what would that do to enrollment numbers.

The news so far is the enrollment in Sidney Public Schools has experienced very little decline. Superintendent Jay Ehler said the first student count of the year was Aug. 20. The official count submitted to the Nebraska Department of Education isn't due until September.

"We ended up with more kids than expected," he said. "We have 1,236 in pre-k through 12."

He said Sidney schools ended the 2017-2018 school year with 1,250 students.

He added there are families that have left the school district because of changes in Cabela's. However, there are also families moving into the school district. He said there are more than 100 new students in the district this year. The district lost about 130 students since its peak in 2015-2016.

"It's been a combination of a lot of things," Ehler said.

He said in addition to families moving to the Sidney community - including the affordable housing in Sidney, there are also students entering the district through the Enrollment Option program. Under the Enrollment Option, a student and his or her parents can petition to attend a Sidney school while residing in another school district.

The Sidney School District started 2017-2018 with an enrollment of 1,332, and ended the year with 1,246. According to numbers submitted to the Nebraska Department of Education, Sidney High Shool has 100 seniors, 103 juniors, and 88 freshmen for 383 high school students total. The number shows a decrease of four students from 2016-2017. The higher-than-expected student enrollment also meant the District had to scramble for an additional teacher.

When the Sidney school board started projecting enrollment for the 2018-2019 school year, the board and administration were bracing for deep losses in enrollment. Ehler said about 26 percent of the district's students are "Cabela's kids," students with one or both parents employed by Cabela's. With that said, the District was expecting a decline of 13 percent.

Middle school numbers are also better than expected. The count shows a loss of one student from 2016-2017. Last year there were 100 seventh grade students and 98 eighth grade students for 198. This year is starting with 99 seventh grade students and 98 eighth grade students.

"For now, we're very happy" with the enrollment numbers, Ehler said.

The numbers also help the District's budget. He said the District lost a few students, but not as many as anticipated, meaning funding will be closer to what is needed.

"It won't affect funding as much as we feared," Ehler said.


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