Byers Independent School District has always been small, but a recent trend in student enrollment shows it's getting even smaller. Fewer students means less funding from the state, and eventually could lead to consolidation with another district. But the superintendent says there could still be time to curb slumping enrollment.
This year classes in Byers started out with just 88 kids at the school. That's a big drop compared to 2006, when the town had 120 students enrolled. Superintendent Steve Wolf has at least one guess as to why.
"I think one thing is just declining populations in rural areas, and that's a nation-wide trend and has been for decades," he said.
That trend has taken it's toll in Texoma already. In the past few years, the Megargel and Goree school districts each consolidated with other nearby districts. According to Wolf, Byers is now at a critical juncture in school funding.
"We haven't taken a huge hit on our funding as of yet, but if our enrollment doesn't rebound, next year we'll be taking a considerable decline in funding," he said.
The state uses a district's Refined Average Daily Attendance, or RADA. As long as it's between 90 and 130 students, a small district gets funding for 130. But once it drops below 90 students, Byers could lose about 30% of its state funds.
Wolf is hoping that some recent changes in faculty will help the situation.
"We made some really good hires. Our application pools were the deepest I've seen in years," he said.
Another Byers addition is CSCOPE, a web-based curriculum system that provides teachers with lesson plans, materials, and even hands-on items for students. Aside from boosting attendance, Wolf says both factors can also make Byers a more attractive school for potential students.
"Having a good school that people are gonna wanna send their children to, yes, I think those things will help improve that here at Byers ISD," he said.
If Byers ever does need to consolidate it would have plenty of options. The district borders other ISD's in Henrietta, Petrolia, and even Burkburnett. Wolf says something that drastic wouldn't happen for at least two years.