Letters to the Editor

Feedback: District isn’t really growing

The Oak Harbor School District misinformation campaign continues: “District’s Impact Aid future uncertain,” (News-Times, Feb. 22) and “Enrollment edges up in Oak Harbor schools” (News-Times Feb. 25).

Mythical statements included: The school district saw an increase of 50 to 200 students when VQ-2 moved to the Whidbey Island Naval Air Station from Rota, Spain; more students are attending Oak Harbor schools; kindergarten enrollment will increase next year because the live birth rate increased 10 percent five years ago; there’s an expected 72 student increase at the high school next year.

According to the state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI), last year full-time enrollment was down 86 students, from 5,620 to 5,534. Student head count declined by 70, from 5,943 to 5,873. This school year, a 66 full-time equivalent decrease so far, from 5,495 to 5,429. Student headcount decreased by 23, from 5,761 to 5,738.

The number of live births did not increase five years ago. Nationally, statistics at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the number of live births decreased in 2001 and again in 2002. So, too, does data from the state Dept. of Health, at both the state and county levels. Kindergarten enrollment has dropped by 52 (head count) since 2001. Projections by OPSI are for less students each year in the future.

The prediction of an expected 72 student increase at the high school next year was unsubstantiated. This year’s 9-12 headcount started at 1,751. Attrition has so far decreased that to 1,721. Next year’s OSPI 9-12 projection is to start the year with only 1,735 students.

The school district is using the News-Times to paint an illusory picture of rising enrollment in an attempt to bolster the ballot proposal to expand the high school by 38,000 square feet. About two weeks after the poll date for that ballot proposal, OHSD will likely “update” their most recent enrollment projections, downward.

William G. Burnett

Oak Harbor

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