BAKER — Although the Baker school system’s overall grade rose from a D in 2013-14 to a C in 2014-15, two schools in the district are still classed as F, and none received a grade above a C, according to a report recently released by the state.
The system lost its only B school when Park Ridge Academic Magnet dropped from a grade of 90.2 in 2013-14 to a C grade with a score of 81.5 in 2014-15.
After the Baker School Board meeting Tuesday night, Superintendent Herman Brister, who took the position in May, attributed Park Ridge’s lower score to the addition of sixth, seventh and eighth grades to the school at the beginning of the 2014 school year.
Park Ridge had previously been an elementary school with kindergarten through fifth grades.
Brister said teachers and staff at Park Ridge are already focusing on the middle school curriculum, which he characterized as the weak point at the school.
Despite remaining an F school, Bakerfield was designated as a top gains school for 2014-15, with its score rising from 27.9 points in 2013-14 to 43.8 in 2014-15.
The other F school, Baker Middle, lost ground, receiving a 38.1 in 2014-15, down from 47.6 in 2013-14.
Plans are in place to make Baker Middle School a STEM school, meaning it would focus on science, technology, engineering and math, Brister said. The process involves re-crafting the educational and instructional plans at the school, which should improve its grade in the future, he said.
Baker High School saw gains, rising from a D school with a grade of 58.8 in 2013-14 to a grade of C with a score of 83 in 2014-15.
Enrollment in the Baker school system as a whole has dropped from 1,661 students in February 2013 to 1,459 in October 2015.
The loss of students resulted in a decrease in revenue in fiscal year 2014-15, according to the audit presented to the board by accounting firm Postlethwaite and Netterville during Tuesday’s meeting.
The school system’s Minimum Foundation Program funding, which is based mostly on enrollment, decreased by $903,000 from 2013-14 to 2014-15. Overall school system revenues in 2014-15 were $18.4 million, while expenses came to $22 million.
Brister already has responded to the district’s financial position by making widespread cuts, including eliminating 20 employees and 31 vacant positions.
As a result, district business manager Sidney Stewart told the board, the school district is currently operating $506,000 under budget.
The finances of the district should continue to improve, assuming student enrollment does not drop again and other factors such as health care costs and retirement rates decrease or remain the same, she said.