Numbers lower for school attendance in Mercer County

Staff Writer
Aledo Times Record

Cathy Decker/Correspondent

ALEDO -- On  Sept. 16, Mercer County school district had 1,259 students in attendance, according to numbers released at Wednesday’s regular school board meeting. School started Aug. 17 for the 2020-2021 year with around 30 percent of the students initially signed up for remote (Internet based) learning. Superintendent Scott Petrie said that number was lowered to 21 percent remote learners within the past week, as more students came back to the classroom. Blended learning “in house” student number is 983 with the remote number at 276.

The sixth day enrollment figure was for 1,294 students. “That’s down from last year’s 1,315,” said Petrie. He pointed out that 39 students are “first time home schoolers and not enrolled in any sense.”

Petrie said that enrollment decline estimates at the time of the 2009 consolidation between the Aledo and Westmer school districts was for an estimated 25 st

Petrie said the schools are working towards bringing more students to the school buildings, hopefully after the end of the first quarter (Oct. 9).  Because of certain back requirements for class sizes (no more than 15 students), additional pressure udent decline per year. That prediction had Mercer County would have given the school district only 1,081 students this year. At consolidation Mercer County school district had 1,387 students

By class, the numbers for this year’s sixth day enrollment includes 71 pre-kindergarteners, 78 kindergarteners; 84 first graders, 90 second graders, 82 third graders, 74 fourth graders, 104 fifth graders, 99 sixth graders, 102 seventh graders, 111 eighth graders, 93 freshmen, 105 sophomores, 91 juniors and 102 seniors. will be placed on school buildings and teachers. Petrie said most of the buildings are already at their capacity. He said the school district will be working with parents and the school board to come up with solutions that will satisfy social distancing.

Petrie told the board that the district last week received a $100,000 digital equity fund grant that is being put into the school’s education fund. The grant will be used to enhance Internet connectivity for remote learners and to purchase additional Chromebooks. The grant is also being used to provide Wi-Fi connectivity on school buses.

The board approved the tentative 2020-2021 budget with expected revenue of $16,512,639 and expenses of $15,976,115.

The board also approved the annual safety policy which covers such things as school drills. Petrie said the tornado drill posed a particular modification due to COVID-19. The normal in-school tornado drill safety spot for high school students is the two bench areas in the gymnasium. COVID-19 requires that no more than 50 students should be gathered in any one close space.

The board approved retirement of Susie Bigham, paraprofessional at the meeting and agreed to hire Rusty Ruggles as a part-time assistant golf coach and Julianne Smet as a part-time temporary RN at the Intermediate school.

The board also approved early graduation requests high school seniors Kaelyn Boruff and Autumn Hunn.

A Memorandum of Understanding was approved between MCEEA (Mercer County Employee Education Association) and Mercer County School District that equalized pay amounts for each nine month employee for 26 weeks. Payment will be made every two weeks on Friday for these employees. The memorandum of understanding does not apply to paraprofessionals, with their pay based on the prior pay period.

This new agreement will expire on June 30, 2021.