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  • May 19MSD men's baseball team wins state championship 3-2 for fourth year in a row
  • April 16School Board of Broward County moves to separate with Dr. Peter Licata and hire Deputy Superintendent Dr. Howard Hepburn for three-year contract
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  • April 6WMSD TV Program wins five awards at national STN competition
The Student News Site of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School

Eagle Eye News

The Student News Site of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School

Eagle Eye News


Enrollment numbers impact teachers’ rosters and students’ schedules

Even before schools open their doors for the first day, there are flocks of students eager to get their schedules changed. Some do not want a specific class or they simply are not in the correct course. It is not uncommon for students to want to change their schedules but it is the student’s choice and done on their accord. One week after school started, some students and teachers were greeted with a rude awakening: unannounced schedule changes.

During the second week of school, 15 classes were collapsed, impacting between 100 and 150 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students. The collapsed classes varied in subject areas: from Advanced Placement English Literature and Composition to Drama.

Laurie Edgar, an English teacher at MSD whose 7th period class was collapsed, had one of her rosters doubled after some students from her 7th period were added to her 6th period. Now she only has one AP English Literature and Composition class, and her 7th period is a planning period.

“I certainly don’t think it’s ideal, especially in an English class, to have 37 students; it makes things more challenging,” Edgar said. “In the end, it always should be about the kids and what’s best for kids.”

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Students were also frustrated with the changes, most having gone to their first periods of the day and being told that they were not on their teachers rosters anymore.

Senior Isha Patel was switched out of Edgar’s 7th period class and placed in Andrea Kowalski-Rospierski’s 4th period class. Like many other students, multiple classes on her schedule got switched around, affecting more than her English class. Patel’s English class change affected her Teacher’s Assistant class period, and since her teacher could not have a TA that period, she had no choice but to change her schedule again.

“I don’t mind getting a switch because I know they have to move classes and sizes but at least ask me before [you change my schedule],” Patel said. “Then I can go get a second schedule change of the day, which is just hectic and annoying, and it’s just too much work. At least ask me or think it through.”

One of the main reasons classes were collapsed was due to the school’s enrollment numbers and the corresponding budget. Every year, schools are funded based on what the state of Florida considers Full-Time Equivalent students, also called FTE.

Each year in October and February, schools count their enrollment numbers for FTE, which is based on the or the number of students that show up for school that week, and are given a budget by Broward County Public Schools.

Teachers’ salaries are part of the money budgeted, and if enrollment is down, the budget is reduced. Every student’s worth in the budget depends on the services they require, so every student lost is worth a different amount, but the base allocation for a student in the state of Florida is around $8,000.

In planning for the next school year’s budget, school principals project a number of students that they believe enroll in a school months in advance and must coordinate with the county. This year, the county projected 3,400 students would enroll at MSD, and Principal Michelle Kefford projected 3,350 students would enroll at MSD.

The number of students that were enrolled in the beginning of the school year was 3,300, 100 less than the county’s projection and 50 less than Kefford’s projection. Because of this, the budget for MSD, which was projected to be $14,001,021, is lower than it originally was, which is now $13,540,362, and administration has to compensate for that.

Enrollment number projections determine how students are distributed in classes and how many classes there should be. Schedules are planned months in advance from the first day of school. Because this year’s enrollment number is less than the enrollment projection, some teachers have less than the average number of students in a class.

“What we have to do is look at where the schedules fell, which classes were the lowest enrolled and then collapse classes or merge classes accordingly because not all of the sections were needed,” Kefford said.

With low enrollment numbers and the budget issue, guidance had no choice but to collapse classes with fewer students and place them elsewhere to use the budget equally and balance the number of students in classes.

The alternative to collapsing sections to balance the budget would be to eliminate teaching positions.

We try to make the changes early as possible. There’s really no way to do it in advance because when you’re expecting students sometimes if they don’t come, we don’t necessarily find out ahead of time; we find out when they don’t show up to school. Unfortunately, there comes a situation where we have to add classes, or we have to collapse classes. So it happens… We do try to do it with the minimum amount of impact to students.

— Principal Michelle Kefford

This year, the freshmen class has around 725 students enrolled, compared to the 800+ students enrolled in the sophomore, junior and senior classes. That is an unequal ratio compared to more recent school years where freshmen enrollment has typically been higher than other class enrollment.

Although this year’s enrollment number is down by approximately 100 students- last year’s enrollment was around 3,398 students and this year’s enrollment is around 3,300 students; MSD’s student enrollment is still over capacity. The enrollment cap for MSD is 3,077 students, 223 students less than the current enrollment.

There is no clear overarching cause for this year’s low enrollment, but an intertwining of decisions could be at the root. Last year, the School Board of Broward County adopted a new boundary plan, which turned away at least 90 students who would have enrolled at MSD as freshmen for the current school year. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis also signed Senate Bill 202 into law, which took effect on July 1 and provides money to families through vouchers, allowing them to apply to scholarships to private schools.

These two reasons, as well as students moving or enrolling at a different high school, were circumstantial for MSD and could very well affect future year’s enrollment numbers.

“I don’t like disrupting student schedules, that’s if I’m able to prevent it. If schedules are changed I can tell you, you know on our end we really try to make it as least disruptive as possible,” Guidance Director Veronica Melei said. “I’m sorry that these had to happen. I know it could be a little tough, but we try to do it as least disruptive as possible; we try to look out for them in that aspect.”

There’s no way to know whether student enrollment at MSD will continue to decrease in the future or increase again. However, it is clear that it the student population continues to get shrink, MSD’s budget and extra periods supplements for teachers will too.

This story was originally published in the October 2023 Eagle Eye print edition.

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About the Contributors
Anna Horowitz
Anna Horowitz, News Editor
Anna Horowitz is a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and a News and Sports Editor for Eagle Eye News. She enjoys reading, listening to music and taking photos as well as immersing herself in unfamiliar topics.
Colby Allison
Colby Allison, Reporter
Colby Allison is a sophomore at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. She is a first-year reporter. She enjoys going to the beach and watching TV.
Ryan Shimony
Ryan Shimony, Sports Editor
Ryan Shimony is a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. He is sports editor for the Eagle Eye. Outside of writing, he enjoys playing golf and hanging out with friends.
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