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Lake Central reports steady enrollment, despite mask backlash

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Lake Central school officials do not believe the district's mask mandate and subsequent repeal had a big impact on enrollment, but Director of Business Services Rob James says the full effect remains to be seen.

"I'm not sure if people are going to come and bring their kids here in the middle of the year in February or March, but that doesn't mean, okay, they're done home schooling them and they're going to send them back here in the fall. We're just going to have to wait and see," James recently told the school board.

He says the school corporation lost a total of 81 students between the September count and the February count, but most of the decrease can be attributed to December graduations. "Except for the high school, pretty much every school has more kids now than they had in the fall, and just the decrease by grade is mainly the juniors and the seniors at the high school," James explained.

He says Lake Central schools continue to see an influx of families moving in from Illinois. The twice-yearly enrollment counts determine how much Education Fund money school corporations get from the state. James says Lake Central ranks toward the bottom, when it comes to the amount of funding per student, while most of top-funded schools are charter schools.

"It's sad, but all four of the virtual charter schools — so no bricks and mortar, nor buildings — all four of the virtual charter schools got more money per kid than we got per kid," James added.

Districts with more kids qualifying for free and reduced lunch get more funding per student, under Indiana's funding formula.