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District loses more students than expected
Although South Kitsap School District officials predicted about 100 fewer students would be walking their halls this year, the actual head count Sept. 9 revealed a bit more were missing 32 to be exact.
The fourth day of classes is a traditional counting day, which district officials said is crucial in determining if the district hired the right amount of teachers and other staff, and if they put them in the right places.
Right now, we have two staffing positions that were holding, said Marcia Wentzel, the districts director of business services.
The number of kids enrolled last month was 10,556, which is 32 full-time equivalent (FTE) positions less than the 10,588 or 1 percent drop predicted. Despite a jump in kindergarters and 12th graders, students enrolled in grades 3, 4 and 5 declined along with 9th and 11th graders enough to dip the total number below predictions.
This potentially affects the districts budget because the state funds the school district $4,000 for each FTE student, which amounts to $128,000.
However, Wentzel said this will not necessarily translate into budget deficits.
Our funding is based on an annual average enrollment, she said. The enrollment decline is not catastrophic unless it continues to decline.
At the last South Kitsap School Board meeting last week, Terri Patton, the districts assistant superintendent for business services, said unfortunately enrollment is likely to do just that.
Historically, the districts annual average enrollment number is less than what is recorded on the first counting day at the elementary, junior high and high school levels.
Because of that, Patton said the impact on the budget is likely to be greater than the loss of 32 full-time students, or $128,000, and that the district will be keeping a close watch on enrollment numbers throughout the next few months.
We will be very cautious about our decisions impacting the budget, mostly regarding staffing, said Wentzel. Its so difficult to predict our enrollment from year to year, we have such a transient population, were never really certain.
SKSDs enrollment decline was mirrored in two other local school districts: Central Kitsap, which was 100 under its estimate, and North Kitsap, which was 74 under estimate.
South Kitsaps decline in students matches the prediction last year by a consultant commissioned by the district who said enrollment will fall sharply over the next few years, due mostly to traffic constraints and an aging population.
Last year, the districts enrollment decreased by 88 students.