Enrollment has declined for years in the South Kitsap School District and its officials do not expect the trend to end soon.
Sandy Rotella, SKSD’s chief financial operations officer, said she is preparing for a 2.5 percent enrollment decrease for the 2013-14 school year.
She attributes some of that to the outgoing, large senior class that is being replaced by a group of kindergartners. She said the district’s newest group of students numbers about 600, which is 200 less than the one that graduated earlier this month.
“It doesn’t mean the door’s open and everyone is leaving the district,” said Rotella, referring to enrollment decline.
The state uses a 10-month enrollment average — September to June — to calculate funding for public schools. Rotella said the state provides $5,116 per full-time equivalent (FTE) student. SKSD’s average for 2012-13 was 9,212.31, including Running Start students, which means it will receive more than $47.1 million in state funding.
SKSD, which retains Greene Gasaway Architects of Federal Way to project future attendance, projected the district would have 9,328 FTE students in 2012-13, which is a decrease of 79 from the previous school year. The difference between the projection and reality leaves the district with a shortfall of more than $590,000.
Greene Gasaway Architects principal Jeff Greene told the Independent in July that 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.
Rotella said several factors, including adults having children later, have contributed to enrollment declines. Both Greene and Rotella have maintained that enrollment should begin to flatline before SKSD experiences growth again.
“There’s still a pattern that enrollment growth is going to increase slow and flat,” Rotella said.
She said two exceptions are Sidney Glen and Sunnyslope elementary schools, where district officials expect less than a 2.5 percent enrollment decline for the upcoming school year.
“Both of them have some new construction that has the potential to produce children that will attend schools,” Rotella said. “We were a little less conservative with them.”