Enrollment in two of the three districts in Spokane Valley is up, and one district expects to be right on target before the year is over.
At Central Valley, enrollment hit 12,107.26 full-time enrolled students as of Oct. 1. This number includes 42 FTE students who are attending Spokane Valley Tech, the Spokane Valley branch of the NEWTECH Skills Center. Last year at the same time, enrollment was at 11,808.6 FTEs.
Districts track enrollment carefully because they are allotted a certain amount of money per student from the state. When districts prepare their budgets every year, they must estimate how many students they will have in order to ensure funding for programs.
At Central Valley, there are 256 more students in the district than budgeted for this year. Finance Director Jan Hutton said the district hired extra staff and purchased more instructional material for the extra students. The board also approved at its Nov. 13 meeting purchase of a portable classroom at Central Valley High School.
“One year doesn’t make a trend,” Superintendent Ben Small said at the Monday board meeting at which the levy funds for 2013 were certified. The board approved a levy of $22.9 million, the same as last year; Small said the district will continue to monitor the growth of enrollment.
The West Valley School District has seen an increase in students, as well. As of Oct. 1, the district has 3,675 FTE students, up 47 from the budgeted 3,628. At this time last year, West Valley had 3,590 students.
Deputy Superintendent Doug Matson said the rise in attendance isn’t confined to one school. Contract Based Education, one of West Valley’s nontraditional high schools, is up by 13 students, and Seth Woodard Elementary is up by 17.
Matson said the district, which had a very conservative estimate for the budget this year, added a kindergarten section and added staff where needed.
While enrollment in the East Valley School District is down, it’s not down by a lot. As of Oct. 1, the date when districts report their enrollment to the state, East Valley had 4,333 FTE students. Last year, the district had 4,353 students and the district set up its 2012-’13 budget for 4,440 students.
Executive Director of Operations Brian Wallace said that although the numbers were down in October, enrollment has been growing. By November, there were 4,427 FTE students.
Wallace said the typical pattern for East Valley is to start out low and catch up in later months.
“It’s unusual for a school district, but that seems to be our pattern for the last three or four years,” he said. He attributes this pattern to the many nontraditional programs East Valley offers students.
“If you compare 10 years ago, alternative programs were relatively small,” he said.