GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. (WGHP) — 3,500 students.

That’s the steep decline Guilford County Schools have seen in enrollment in the last few years.

The district’s public-school funding is tied to student enrollment.

During the pandemic school budgets were not touched.

Now things are going back to normal.

“A lot of schools lost at least 1 teacher,” said Angie Henry, Senior Advisor to GCS Superintendent.

That’s the reality for many of the 126 schools in the Guilford County School System.

While schools see a drop in funding compared to last year’s budget, Henry would not call it a cut.

“The last two budget years the state has held school districts harmless, in a typical non-pandemic year the state allotted us a number of teachers and a number of other positions as well based on anticipated enrollment in our school district,” she said.

There are about 3,500 fewer students enrolled this year.

Now, when the new state allotment comes down, the district is anticipating a difference of 64 teachers.

This brings up concerns because if students keep coming back, the district needs to take them.

Even though there would be fewer teachers due to state allocations.

“That doesn’t necessarily mean that a teacher won’t have a job, because we have to hire so many teachers every year due to turnover teachers retiring. So, we have a place for all of our teachers,” Henry said.

There are also ratio formulas that complicate the situation meaning class size requirements are district-wide.

Henry said, “So, if it’s December and we have 18 or 19 students in a first-grade class, in every first-grade class in a school, then we have to assign a teacher to that school because we can’t have one of those class sizes being over the 19 max.”

Despite the loss in funding, Henry believes schools shouldn’t see a huge difference in pre-pandemic numbers, and the numbers of teachers they have based on their student enrollment.

“If the student enrollment drops, then obviously they are going to have fewer teachers there, so all our formulas were the same so they should see the same level of staffing,” said Henry.

She goes on to say early student registration is important to get a good idea of the number of students who will be in school.