UPDATE: NASD enrollment escalates, still 245 students shy of last year

Published 5:00 am Saturday, August 6, 2022

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NATCHEZ — Enrollment for Natchez Adams School District has escalated closer to the district’s expected enrollment of approximately 2,800 students.

As of Thursday, 2,590 students have shown up whereas last school year they ended with 2,835 students, NASD public engagement director Tony Fields said. That leaves the school district 245 students shy from last school year.

School started on July 28 with a surprisingly low enrollment of 1,800 students. Since then, over 700 more have registered.

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“I’m glad to report we are much better with attendance, better than the first day of school,” Fields said.

Enrollment at NASD has declined every year for at least two decades, according to data from the Mississippi Department of Education. The 2020-21 school year, NASD saw its largest decrease of students from the prior school year when the district ended the year with 229 fewer students. The following year, the district lost another 46 students. However, many of them also registered for school late, Fields said. He added the district didn’t reach a full roster until three to four weeks after school started last school year.

“Every year, we do wind up with a number of students who register late. This year, it’s a much larger number than normal. One factor could be the earlier start of school.”

Fields said the district has done everything it can to mitigate late registration. The district’s online registration portal for this school year opened in March, earlier than usual, and the district hosted in-person school registration events over the summer to help those who needed assistance. Every person who has made contact with the school district to get their child registered has received help, he said. When students transfer to a new school district, Fields said that should district would have to contact NASD to get their records. The students who the district has counted as missing are those who are unaccounted for, he said.

“At this point, those 245 are still out there who have not registered or showed up to school,” Fields said. “We only have about 13 students so far who have gone through the proper channels to request to home school. That’s normal for us.”

Fields said some students have transferred to other places but was not sure how many.

He said the district receives base-level state funding at a rate of $18 per student per day.

Parents or guardians have 15 days from the start of the school year to get their children registered for school or they could face charges of educational neglect. Those families could face consequences set by Youth Court.

“It’s up to us to catch those students up on what they’ve missed,” Fields said. “Our attendance officer does a good job of reporting those things to Youth Court. We had a good meeting with Judge Walt Brown over the summer about educational neglect.

Fields praised the school district’s faculty, staff and maintenance workers for doing everything possible to help the school year go as smoothly as possible.

“The only thing we can do is make sure that we have the registration process available for everyone, that it is user-friendly and that we offer all avenues that we can to make it easier. Those who took advantage of the opportunities we presented them and started school on time have had a good start to the school year,” he said.

“It has been a smooth start but not an easy one with all of the transitions we are making. But everyone worked hard over the summer to ensure that school is ready to be in session. It’s not perfect, but everyone is putting their best foot forward.”