Fall enrollment is down at almost all Longview-area school districts, and those fewer students will eventually translate to fewer dollars in state funding.
In Gregg County, Sabine ISD is the only district that reports an increase in students. Superintendent Stacey Bryce said more people are moving to the district and building homes, which grows enrollment.
Sabine ISD has 17 more students for a total 1,534 compared with its Snapshot Day number in 2019.
Snapshot Day, which is in October, sets districts’ official enrollment and determines their state funding.
Bryce said he expected the COVID-19 pandemic to cause a drop in Sabine ISD enrollment, but new homes and subdivisions in the Liberty City area offset those losses.
“I have even had to cut back on out-of-district transfers we have to accept because we’re going to get overcrowded, and I don’t want that,” he said. “The last five years we have not been able to accept nearly as many transfers in the elementary grades.”
But Sabine ISD is the exception.
Longview ISD reported a drop of 175 students compared with Snapshot Day in 2019, with 8,300 students enrolled.
Pine Tree ISD Superintendent Steve Clugston said his district is down 50 students for a total of 4,517, adding that partially was caused by a lack of prekindergarten students.
Spring Hill ISD is at 2,002 students, a decrease of 73, while White Oak ISD has 28 fewer students with 1,476 enrolled.
At Gladewater ISD, 1,751 students are enrolled, which is a decrease of 85 students compared with the 2019 Snapshot Day number.
Kilgore ISD has lost 133 students for a total enrollment of 3,930.
Though Hallsville ISD reports it has 121 fewer students for a total of 4,838, Superintendent Jeffery Collum said enrollment was even lower the first two weeks of school, and he is hopeful it will keep growing.
Collum said his biggest question is: What will the state do?
“If we’re still in this mode at Snapshot Day, you’re talking about millions of dollars lost for schools across the state,” he said. “That is a devastating blow. We’re working as hard as we can to get this kids back in school, but it’s still a problem.”
Though the district’s enrollment is down, Collum said students across the state are still enrolling in Hallsville’s Texas Virtual Academy, which has more students this fall.
Local homeschool groups say they aren’t seeing a flood of new students.
Kathy Livingston, an administrator in the group Longview Area Relaxed Home Educators, said this past week that while she does not have exact student numbers, some new families that have started homeschooling have contacted the group.
Laura Hill, president of the Christian Home Educators Community of Longview, said the group has not seen a large influx of families.
“We have about 180 families in our group, but I wouldn’t say enrollment is up,” she said. “I have gotten a lot of phone calls and interest. The new members that we do have, a lot of them are from private or public schools. We have noticed they aren’t homeschool families moving to the area.”