For the first time in many years, enrollment in East Valley School District is up.
Alternative and online classes have made all the difference in a district that has seen its enrollment decline in recent years.
School districts keep a close eye on the number of students enrolled in each school – the state gives the districts approximately $5,500 for each full-time equivalent student.
Central Valley Schools saw a slight increase in its students this year, and West Valley is hoping alternative programs will give its slightly decreased enrollment numbers a boost in the coming months.
Central Valley School District
Jan Hutton, executive director of finance for Central Valley Schools, said the district has 11,865.91 full-time equivalent students, which is up almost 16 students from what the district projected for the school year.
Hutton said the projected number is based on the average number of students the year before. This time last year, there were 11,821.24 students.
“It looks like we’re right on target,” Hutton said.
The alternative programs within the East Valley School District made the difference in enrollment patterns.
Brian Wallace, executive director of operations, said the district had projected 4,214 full-time equivalent students, but instead now has 4,340.
“It’s mostly because of our alternative learning programs,” Wallace said. He said that if it wasn’t for those students, the enrollment numbers would have been about what they projected, or maybe a little lower.
This time last year, the district had about 4,123 full-time equivalent students.
Wallace said that if the enrollment numbers continue to grow over the school year, he may have to make some budget changes.
“The alternative (programs), from the fiscal side, definitely benefits us,” he said.
West Valley School District
“We’re down a little from last year,” said Gene Sementi, assistant superintendent of West Valley School District.
The district now has 3,657 full-time equivalent students, down from 3,712 last May.
When they are planning budgets, the district tries to project what their enrollment numbers will be.
Sementi said the district’s alternative programs will help out with the waning enrollment. Both Spokane Valley High School and Contract Based Education have programs that tend to grow as the year progresses.
To make up for the shortfall, the district let go of a long-term substitute position and allowed a teaching position to go dark after that teacher had transferred to another district. Sementi said they also shifted some employees throughout the district to other schools.
“We were able to share some staff,” he said.
Sementi is confident about the district’s enrollment prospects this school year as students move from a traditional school to the alternative programs.