Next year Big Sky could be losing some higher level classes in departments such as science due to an increase in freshmen enrollment, which will also have an effect on the school’s budget, according to Principal Jennifer Courtney. Courtney also says that the current Covid-19 pandemic is not expected to be a factor in next year’s budget for the school.
Because of the large number of incoming freshmen, the school is going to have to run more basic lower level classes and so will not be able to run as many upper level elective classes.
The school is going to see close to 60 more freshmen in the 2020-2021 school year than there were in the 2019-2020 year for a class of 276.
Courses such as English 1 and Integrated Science 1 are divided into class sections of 25 students. With 2-3 added class periods of freshmen courses from this year to next, more classes for each course will need to be available to freshmen. This will cause a decrease in higher level electives, since Big Sky does not have any additional FTE, which is the fund to hire teachers to teach more classes.
Not every department will be affected by this says Courtney. Math classes will likely not notice much of a change since freshmen take math at different levels. However in science, every freshman is required to take Integrated Science 1, so there will have to be more sections of that specific class leaving space for fewer sections of elective courses, such as Chemistry.
The number of incoming freshmen will also have an effect on the budget says Courtney. Basically, the school receives a set amount of money per student enrollment which is referred to as “ANB money.” However, that money isn’t in the school’s budget until the following year. Due to this, the school will have more students than will have funding for each student in the 2020-2021 school year because the amount of ANB funding received will be in correlation with the number of students that were enrolled at Big Sky for the 2019-2020 school year.
The amount the school gets from ANB funding is also affected by the number of less than full-time students, which consists of any student taking less than 6 classes or 720 hours on Big Sky’s campus, whether it be University of Montana classes, Business Co-op, or Senior Study halls that they’re taking instead. For each student who is not of full-time status the school receives less funding. So since there was an increase in less than full-time students this year, that means less funding next year that will have to be stretched further.