Opinion

School district’s attendance still declining overall

In case you missed it, the South Kitsap School District reported last week that total enrollment in all of its schools had declined over the past year based on its September numbers, continuing a trend we’ve seen here for at least a decade.

That matters for two reasons. First, the district derives a portion of its funding from the state on the basis of its attendance figures. Consequently, fewer students mean less money.

Secondly, it’s important because, as you’ll doubtless recall, the fate of last spring’s unsuccessful South Kitsap school bond turned on the question of whether a new high school would be needed to accomodate an increasing number of students when the district’s attendance continued to trend in the opposite direction.

According to the most recent figures, attendance at South Kitsap High School itself did increase slightly this term, which would seem to give ammunition to the bond backers. But unless you want to argue that students arrive in significant numbers fully grown at the high school without first having to pass through the lower grades, we’d be inclined to give more weight to the numbers for the district as a whole when considering what the future holds.

None of which is to suggest the current trend won’t turn around. In fact, bond supporters made precisely that case, insisting that we should build the school now in anticipation of growth they’re sure is forthcoming.

Opponents of the measure, meanwhile, countered that South Kitsap residents already straining under the weight of their property taxes shouldn’t be asked to pay even more until the numbers begin to reverse and we start seeing actual — as opposed to projected — growth.

We’re not saying which side was right and which was wrong. We’re just pointing out the statistical fact that, if it’s actual growth you’re waiting for, there hasn’t been any yet.

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