Enrollment numbers peachy

One week into another school year, it looks like enrollment in the Oak Harbor School District is higher than projected.

Enrollment stands at 5,521 full-time equivalent students, which is 71 students more than predicted before the school year began.

Meeting enrollment projections is important because state funding is based on enrollment numbers. The basic education funding from the state for the Oak Harbor School District is $4,423 per student.

“This is a really good number,” said David Peterson, assistant superintendent. He added enrollment should continue increasing over the next month as families associated with VQ-2, a Navy squadron transferring from Rota, Spain to the Whidbey Island Naval Air Station, move into the area.

During a recent school board meeting, Peterson said the Anacortes School District isn’t seeing many families from VQ-2 enrolling children in its schools. He added that, while more students are enrolling at the start of the school year, numbers will likely decline slightly later in the school year.

Peterson said the average class size in the elementary schools stands at 23.3 students. There are several classes that have high numbers of students. There are 26 to 27 students in the kindergarten classes at Oak Harbor Elementary and the second and third grade classes at Olympic View Elementary are higher than other schools in the district.

Peterson said officials are closely watching the enrollment numbers in those classes and will work to alleviate the situation should class size continue to rise.

Enrollment in the elementary schools ranges from a high of 547 students at Hillcrest to a low of 390 students at Clover Valley. Crescent Harbor and Broad View both have 396 students, Olympic View has 451 students and Oak Harbor Elementary has 450.

Enrollment at North Whidbey Middle School is 670 students while enrollment at Oak Harbor Middle School is 644 students. Oak Harbor High School has an enrollment of 1,695 full-time equivalent students.

School officials are concerned about how many students will attend Oak Harbor schools next year. Peterson said the amount of new homes being built in the school district will prompt the district to adjust school boundaries at the elementary and middle school levels.

They will begin to review the district’s boundary lines in January. Peterson said “a fairly large committee” comprised of administrators, union officials and parents will form to provide input about school boundaries.

He said the committee will work with maps that plot where every student in the school district lives to come up with adjustments.

He hopes to have the work finished by next spring in order to give families time to prepare for any changes.

The school district last did a major boundary line adjustment four years ago. A smaller one took place last year between Clover Valley, Crescent Harbor and Olympic View elementary schools. That was done to reduce overcrowding at Olympic View, Peterson said.

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