COVENTRY TWP.  Coventry Local Schools are expected to have fewer students in the classroom this year as enrollment appears to be down.

During a special school board meeting Aug. 9, the Board of Education heard from Coventry Assistant Superintendent Lisa Blough about enrollment for the upcoming school year. The district expects 84 fewer students this year based on current enrollment numbers.

Last year Coventry had 2,095 total students with 758 of those coming into the district through open enrollment. For the 2017-2018 school year, the district anticipates having 2,011 total students with 721 of them being open enrolled.

Blough said normally the district sees a big influx of students for sixth grade, but that didn't happened this year. The district set enrolment limits for all the buildings this year, but based on enrollment numbers, the district will be 239 students below capacity.

Financially, fewer students means less funding for those students. On average, the district receives about $2,000 for each resident student and about $6,000 for each open enrolled student. This upcoming school year, the district anticipates 39 fewer resident students and 45 fewer open enrollment students, resulting in a $348,000 loss in funding.

Coventry Treasure Matthew Muccio said in the five-year-forecast he prepared in May he accounted for 40 fewer resident students, but it didn’t account for the 45 fewer open enrollment students. If the district doesn’t see enrollment rise much by the beginning of school, he said the district will be in a stressful position due to the loss of funding.

Blough said there is still time for these numbers to change and she fully expects some last minute students to enroll just before school starts.

"We will revisit enrollment after the school year starts," Blough said. "That is when we will get a better idea."

Superintendent Russell Chaboudy said the failed renewal levy in May and billboards that were placed around the township prior to the election asking people to vote no on the renewal have driven a lot of students out of Coventry. He said between the community controversy and other schools expanding open enrollment, students have gone elsewhere.

Potential cuts

School district voters will again decide on a renewal levy in November. The levy accounts for $3 million in operating money, and the district has three opportunities left to pass the levy before collection starts in 2019.

As a part of being in fiscal emergency, the Financial Planning and Supervision Commission, which is overseeing Coventry Schools, has instructed the district to put a plan in place to make $3 million in cuts if the renewal does not pass before it begins collecting.

Chaboudy said he is working to develop a plan before the November election and will be collecting input from the school board. Once the plan is finalized, it will be presented to the commission. Cuts would come in phases with the first round coming early next year if the renewal fails this November.

The first round of cuts would include: state minimum busing, eliminating spring sports, eliminating winter sports other than varsity sports (because they make money), closing buildings at 4 p.m. daily, increasing fees, cutting field trips and clubs, eliminating band and choir competitions outside of school, investigating cleaning services, no new technology or major facility projects and reducing copies.

If the renewal fails again in May, the cuts would include: reduce administration and teachers, reducing support staff, selling the Lakeview Building, closing the fitness center and moving administration offices into it, eliminating special programing such as library, gym and music in grades kindergarten through eighth, eliminating all sports, going to half day kindergarten and no recess for elementary students.

If the renewal were to fail a third time next November, the cuts would include: pay freezes, a state minimum education, possibly increasing open enrollment and a possible new 10-mill tax levy.

Chaboudy said the district could be forced to consolidate if the renewal failed all three times because he isn’t certain the district could make $3 million in cuts and still operate.

"This is not a threat, this is what the commission instructed us to do," Chaboudy said. "This is what cutting $3 million would look like."

These cuts are not set in stone and are just an idea, Chaboudy said.

The next regular board meeting is schedule for 6 p.m. Aug. 23 at the Lakeview Building.