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Enrollment dip alarms Coupeville

September enrollment numbers may signal an alarming trend for the Coupeville School District.

Board members projected 983.24 full-time equivalent students in July’s budget, but this month’s actual FTE students amounted to only 959.4, 46.6 fewer than last school year.

The FTE loss equates to about $125,000 in state revenue, but what the board members found most upsetting was that the largest enrollment decreases were found in grades first through third, which could mean low enrollment may continue for the next nine to 11 years.

Superintendent Patty Page said at September’s board meeting that district officials monitor students pretty closely, and they plan on looking into where students have gone. She said she thinks many simply moved off the island or out of state.

Board member Kathleen Anderson theorized that Coupeville is losing elementary students due to the high cost of homes in the area. Unlike Oak Harbor which has more available houses and apartments for young families, Coupeville’s options are limited.

Another area of concern is the low number of students in the district’s Cedar Program, which assists families involved in homeschooling. The program is housed at Camp Casey where the district has a $30,000 lease signed with Seattle Pacific University. According to Page, about 70 FTE students participated in the program a few years ago and now only 45.4 students are involved.

The board members plan to readjust building budgets as the year continues.

“We should be able to weather through this,” Page said.

The district should receive money from the education jobs grant and can dip into Initiative 728 money that was set aside for next year.

“We think there are some other spots where we’ll be able to tighten our belts,” Page said. “... In the scheme of things it’s not as disastrous as it sounds, but it’s not good news.”

Page said the district will see where enrollment numbers settle in October before making any serious adjustments. Though numbers usually increase through September and peak in October, Page said enrollment has not gone up since the first day of school on Sept. 7.

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