The number of students in Petersburg schools is trending downward again.

After a few years of increases, student enrollment dropped this year and it’s projected to fall again next year.

The district expected 479 students this year. The actual count was just over 465, down about 14 students from that projection. It’s not a round number because it’s a daily average count done each fall.

The school district’s director of finance Karen Quitslund explained some of the enrollment trends at Tuesday’s meeting of the school board.

“We have had a lot of years of decreases, some major ones, 12 percent in fiscal year ‘12,” she said. “And then we’ve had some smaller years of increases. So we’re down one percent from the previous year, from fiscal year ’17. We had 469 students, almost 470, and this year we’re down to 465. The thing I would like to point out is what we’re projecting for fiscal year ’19 is 449. So we are going to see another drop in students.”

Quitslund reported on the numbers during a revision of the district’s budget for the current year. Enrollment levels impact the dollar amount the schools receive from the state. However, the district last spring budgeted for a cut in state funding that did not happen. That’s helped absorb the drop in student numbers. In fact the board approved a budget revision with nearly 63-thousand dollars more in state funding than the district budgeted for last spring.

Speaking of finances, the board also heard a student presentation on a careers class, added back into the high school schedule five years ago. Students learn personal financial literacy – things like balancing a check book, using loans and credit cards as well as saving for retirement.

Senior Josh Thynes said the course taught a basic understanding of the financial world. “Money skills in my opinion is a course that should be introduced as well as accessible by the entire student body here,” Thynes said. “I think that the insight that the program has to offer is pretty beneficial to the student’s path of becoming a young adult. I think it’s a pretty powerful program. It’s helped quite a bit.”

Part of the course has students participating in a free online challenge offered by financial company H&R Block.

There are 13 seniors in the class this year, which is offered as an elective at Petersburg High. Teacher Jim Engell thought it could be offered online for students who were not able to fit it into their daily schedule in the future.

In other school news, high school students on Friday, December 22nd will be doing community service projects for a day to give back to the community. Organizations that need help with projects can contact Carli Byrer or Ginger Evens.