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Salem looks for pupil gains



Published: Tue, July 9, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



A net loss of pupils also means less funding from the state.

By NORMAN LEIGH

VINDICATOR SALEM BUREAU

SALEM -- It's been more than a year since Salem schools hired a person whose job includes reversing the loss of pupils to other districts through open enrollment.

Although Salem is still losing more pupils than it's gaining, the numbers are improving, Superintendent Dr. David Brobeck said Monday.

During the recently ended 2000-2001 school year, the district had 50 pupils enter its system from other districts. But Salem had 53 pupils transfer elsewhere, giving the district a three-pupil loss.

Those numbers are better than the 13-pupil deficit the district chalked up in the 1999-2000 school year, Brobeck pointed out.

About 2,600 pupils attend Salem schools.

Funding concern

There's money at stake when a district loses more pupils than it gains. That's because each pupil counts for about $5,000 per year in state funding.

The money travels with each pupil, meaning that those districts that have a net loss of pupils also experience a funding drain. Brobeck credited Doug Phillips and the district's desire to gain more pupils for the progress in reducing its deficit.

Phillips, who also serves as Salem schools' head varsity football coach and its drug-and-alcohol prevention instructor, was tasked with finding out why pupils intended to leave and to encourage them to stay in the district.

"It varies from person to person," Brobeck said of why some pupils transfer.

Reasons for leaving include a desire to be with friends, a beef with the district or the belief by a pupil or his family that he would perform better elsewhere.

Where they go

Salem loses most of its pupils to West Branch schools. Out of the 53 lost in the 2000-2001 school year, 21 went to West Branch, Brobeck said.

But Salem also gains the most from West Branch. Of the 50 pupils who transferred here in 2000-2001, 19 were from West Branch.

The two districts are close geographically and in size, Brobeck said in explaining the high number of transfers between them.

Salem is dedicated to convincing its own pupils and those from other districts that they can get a good education here, Brobeck said.

"We want to be on the plus side" when it comes to gaining more pupils than are lost, Brobeck said.

With that in mind, district officials intend to seriously consider undertaking a marketing campaign aimed at promoting the district, Brobeck said.

Brochures, television spots and newspapers advertisements are among the methods being considered to coax pupils to the district.




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