Wednesday, September 11, 2013

District enrollment dips slightly

Middle school and high school numbers go up

Express Staff Writer

Numbers provided by the Blaine County School District show that student enrollment fluctuates but has remained basically steady for the past 10 years.
Express graphic by Tony Barriatua

    The Blaine County School District has experienced a .5 percent decrease in total student population for the 2013-2014 school year.
    As of Friday, the end of the first week of school, the district showed enrollment of 3,339 students, compared to 3,358 for the 2012-2013 school year. Enrollment at the end of the first week of school is the number used to establish official enrollment for the school year.
    School District enrollment has remained mostly steady over the past 10 years, fluctuating only by 139 students between a low for the 2004-2005 school year of 3,263 students and a high for the for the 2011-2012 school year of 3,402. However, the student population has not increased as projected in 2009 when Blaine County voters approved a 10-year, $59.8 million plant facilities levy that included funds for building a new elementary school.
    Any plans for building a new school are now on hold. School District officials have generally attributed the lack of a student population increase to the economic recession that has lingered since 2008.
    Heather Crocker, district communications director, noted Monday that the district might also be losing students to private schools.
    “It seems this is a general trend in the community, considering the enrollment at local private schools,” Crocker wrote in an email to the Idaho Mountain Express.
    Nonetheless, Crocker noted that district enrollment has varied only by 1-2 percent over the past five years.
    “I think the community understands that we have great options in the Blaine County School District,” Crocker stated. “We have a level of programming that compares with much larger districts. We have some of the smallest class sizes in the state and outstanding teachers. We continually hear about parents who choose to live here because of various programs, whether it is the Autism Spectrum Disorder program, dual immersion, advanced placement, International Baccalaureate or our award-winning music programs. Students and families have some great choices and services in our public schools.”

School populations
    While some schools in the district experienced a decline in student population for the school year, Wood River High School and Wood River Middle School both have higher numbers than they did at this time last year.
    Particularly noteworthy are increases in the number of sixth-graders at the middle school and ninth-graders at the high school. According to a district enrollment report, the middle school has 33 more sixth-graders this year, with a class enrollment of 258, compared to 225 for the 2012-2013 school year.
    The number of ninth-graders jumped even more, with an increase of 44 students at the high school. Last year’s ninth-grade enrollment was 198, compared to 242 this year.
    The high school’s total student population this year was listed as 784, compared to 773 last year.
    The middle schools total student population this year was listed as 698, compared to 685 last year.
    Silver Creek High School, the district’s alternative school, showed a modest increase in population, with 50 students this year, compared to 47 last year.
    Also experiencing a student increase was Woodside Elementary School in Hailey, with 359 students this year, compared to 348 last year.
    The district’s other four schools showed declines in student population.
    The Bellevue Elementary School population was listed at 330 students, compared to 334 last year.
    Carey School, which has grades K-12, showed a loss of 21 students, with 235 enrolled this year, compared to 256 last year.
    Hailey Elementary School was listed at 498 students, compared to 507 students last year.
    Hemingway Elementary School in Ketchum showed a decline of 23 students, with 385 this year, compared to 408 last year.

Terry Smith:

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