SKSD likely to have less students this fall

SK School District officials anticipate a slight decline in enrollment next year.

The district, which retains Greene Gasaway Architects of Federal Way to project future attendance, expects SKSD enrollment to decrease from 9,407 full-time equivalent (FTE) students to 9,328 during the 2012-13 school year.

Based on those projections, district financial operations officer Sandy Rotella said that also will mean staffing reductions if the numbers come to fruition.

“If there’s less students, there will be less staff,” she said.

Based on those projections, there will be 3.14 fewer FTE instructing basic education. Rotella said those losses will be absorbed through attrition.

Greene Gasaway Architects principal Jeff Greene, who handles enrollment projects for SKSD, said he makes his projections through analyzing enrollment figures through the last six years, birth rates in the area and through data provided by the Office of Financial Management.

The most significant decline, based on percentages, is projected at the junior highs. Greene forecasts about a 3.5 percent decline in the district from seventh through ninth grade to 2,178 FTE students.

Greene said SKSD has fared better than many districts that have seen significant declines. He attributes some of that enrollment to the children from Naval Base Kitsap, which he said enhances Kitsap’s economy.

Rotella said several factors, including adults having children later, have contributed to enrollment declines.

But she expects the situation to improve locally. Greene projects enrollment “flat lines” in 2013 before it increases after that. Based on his analysis, Greene said he expects the district, which once had more than 11,000 students enrolled, to grow again.

“What we know for sure from the state is there’s another population bulge,” he said.

District officials projected a 2.5 percent enrollment decrease for this year and ended up with 150 more students enrolled for 2011-12 than anticipated. After hiring 6.23 FTE teachers to fulfill contracts requiring class sizes to be maintained at certain levels, the enrollment increase resulted in more than $294,000 in additional revenue for the district.

Some of that was intentional as now-retired assistant superintendent for business and support Terri Patton wanted to be “conservative” with enrollment projections after SKSD had fewer students than anticipated during the 2010-11 school year, which created a shortfall. Because of union contracts, Patton said at the time that the district could not simply lay off teachers when enrollment did not meet projections.

While the enrollment figures are not as conservative this time around, Rotella thinks there is a possibility that SKSD could have more students than projected during the upcoming  year. She said it is unlikely that there would be more than 70 FTE than anticipated, though.


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