First week of enrollment is steady in schools

POULSBO — North Kitsap School District administrators have to be precise when it comes to new school year enrollment, as staff, teachers and students alike depend on it, though for different reasons.

There has to be the correct number of employees in the district per student to ensure state funding. Equally important is maintaining an appropriate ratio between teachers and students in each classroom.

The job is tough, though it’s made a little easier by a fairly constant population in North Kitsap that keeps the numbers steady.

“It’s fairly flat,” Nancy Moffatt, the district’s executive director of finance and operations, said of the district’s overall enrollment curve.

Though there were fluctuations at each school for the first week of the 2005-06 year, administrators were pretty close to pegging the total enrollment district-wide — their projection came in only 12 students below actual figures.

On the way up

The largest increase in the district was at North Kitsap High School, where enrollment as of Sept. 2 was 1,407 students. The district had projected 1,337. As a result, a full-time English and Social Studies teacher will be added, said Gregg Epperson, executive director of student support services.

Board member Dan Delaney said he’d heard from a sophomore English teacher who had about 35 students the first day of class. But Delaney was told that numbers would go down with the addition of a teacher.

Polaris International School, the district’s first Small Learning Community (SLC), is in its second year and saw its enrollment grow from 153 students a year ago to 177 this year. The growth is most likely due to the fact that the program’s inaugural year had a small senior class.

At Poulsbo Junior High School, enrollment was also higher than expected, by about 27 students, bringing the total attendance to about 840. Epperson said a math and science teacher will be added to cover that extra load.

The Junior High Options Program (JHOP), which utilizes increased parent involvement to bring down the teacher-student ratio in each classroom and is run out of portables behind Gordon Elementary, was also up, suggesting the program is growing in popularity. It almost doubled in size, from 26 to 45 students. A part time teacher was added to help absorb the program’s growth.

On the decline

The biggest dip of concern is at Spectrum Community School, the district’s alternative secondary school option, where enrollment was projected at 111 but came in at 80 students. NKSD Supt. Gene Medina said the chances of that number increasing “are very questionable,” given the school’s enrollment history.

Delaney said the decline could be caused by other alternatives that students now have, such as the Parent Assisted Learning (PAL) Program.

“We’re starting to offer more choices for students districtwide,” he said, “Where (Spectrum) used to be the only choice.”

Declining enrollment numbers there were also a concern for Supt. Medina, who said they’ll have to measure next year whether the program at Spectrum is “sustainable.”

Vinland, the district’s largest elementary, is also down about 40 students from the district’s projection of 608.

“We’re not sure why Vinland is down,” said Executive Director of Teaching and Learning Marylou Murphy, adding that work will continue to try and decipher the root cause.

Nonetheless, three half time teachers were moved from the school to help out at Pearson, Poulsbo and Wolfle elementaries, all of which have a slightly higher attendance than anticipated.

Board member Catherine Ahl raised the issue of impending attendance boundary changes, passed by the board earlier in the year, which include moving all children who live at Subase Bangor from Vinland to Pearson Elementary in September 2007. She suggested that since the changes are inevitable, the parents at Bangor may want to start moving their children to Pearson now so their children attend the same school for all of their elementary years.

“If I had a kindergartner coming up ... I’d go ahead and start them at Pearson,” she said.

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