September 28, 2000

School District Enrollment Hits New Low Of 5,707


By Jon A. Brake

And the numbers keep going down. Remember before the 1993 election to build three new schools (at $27
Million) the Manhattan School Board produced a brochure that showed district wide enrollment would reach
7,459 students by 1996. They missed that number by 1,000. In fact the enrollment never went higher than the
1993 figures.

The School Board had two reports on projected enrollments. One increased enrollment by about 10% a year. The
other showed a tremendous increase in only three years. They chose to use the higher projection for the election.

The first was by the External Linkage Committee. They said enrollment would grow by 900 students in ten years.
That would have put the enrollment figures at 7,053.

Another report, the Facilities Design Team reported "Current Projected Enrollment for 1996 will be 7,459.

Every year after the election the district has lost students. The district is now 1,752 students less that what the
School Board members predicted.

The Local Option Budget

Before the 1993 election the School Board put out a news release dated September 13, 1993 which stated: "USD
estimates that the new schools and improvements at existing schools will increase the district's operating costs by
5 to 7 mills." Five mills would have been $887,119.80. Seven mills would have been $1,241,967.70.

In 1998-99 the Local Option Budget was $2,2 million. In 1999-2000 the LOB is $3.5 million and next year the
LOB will be $4.6 million.

In 1995 local residents organized a petition to bring a 12% increase in the LOB to a vote and it was defeated by a
2-1 margin. The following year the State Legislature passed a bill that took the right of a vote on the LOB away
from the people.

At the time of the 1993 election plans called for a new kitchen to be built as part of one of the new middle schools.
After the election and before all the bonds could be sold the School Board voted to drop plans and they built a
new Central Kitchen.

When the Free Press protested the move, because the voters had not approved a Central Kitchen, lawyers for
the district said the question voted on was written in such a way the District could build the Central Kitchen.

At the last School Board election the voter put in three new Board Members. Next year they need to complete
the job.