Oak Harbor School District nears minimum staffing level
By REBECCA OLSON
Whidbey News Times Staff reporter
September 30, 2011 · Updated 2:07 PM
Enrollment for Oak Harbor schools is as the district expected, at slightly below last year’s by approximately 12 students.
“That’s good news,” Assistant Superintendent Lance Gibbon said.
Overall, enrollment is lower than expected at the elementary level with 59 fewer students and above at the high school level with 52 more students, Gibbon said. Middle schools saw 11 more students than expected.
Two teachers were reassigned due to the enrollment shifts.
There’s an average of one-half more student per class, Gibbon said.
“That’s what happens when you tighten your belt with staffing.”
Lower enrollment at the elementary level means class sizes are at or below limits, Gibbon said. Class levels are still being balanced at middle and high school levels.
All classes will be at or below limits by Oct. 1, Gibbon said. One way to avoid class size overages is through transferring new students.
North Whidbey Middle School’s enrollment is down by 35 and Oak Harbor Middle School’s enrollment is up by 30, which wasn’t expected, Gibbon said.
Oak Harbor Elementary had the largest change with 73 fewer students enrolled.
HomeConnection has 12 fewer students but “we still see strong support for it,” Gibbon said.
A total of 2.8 full-time equivalent positions were left unfilled from what was budgeted in anticipation of future state funding cuts. These positions include 1.5 elementary teaching positions, one elementary counselor position and a part-time elementary art position.
In addition, 12 full-time teaching positions not in the budget were left unfilled because teachers retired or resigned at the end of last school year.
“We’re starting to bump up against the minimum staffing level,” Gibbon said.
More than 90 percent of transfer requests were honored. The district received between 250 and 300 requests.
While the Coupeville School District claimed a sizable increase in enrollment, Gibbon said Coupeville budgeted for a bigger drop in enrollment, which they didn’t see, so they have fewer actual students than last year. Oak Harbor didn’t budget for a big drop in enrollment; they budgeted for a proportionate amount of drop in enrollment that turned out to be realistic, Gibbon said.
Contact Whidbey News Times Staff reporter Rebecca Olson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360-675-6611 ext. 5052.