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Home arrow News arrow Local News arrow LA GRANDE SCHOOL ENROLLMENT RISES

LA GRANDE SCHOOL ENROLLMENT RISES

By Dick Mason

Observer Staff Writer

The La Grande School District's enrollment picture is finally beginning to brighten.

Second-week attendance figures indicate enrollment in the district is up 53 students from the end of the last school year.

This is welcome news, particularly in light of the decline the district has experienced in recent years, officials said. The district has 663 fewer students today than it did in 1992-93.

This year's increase can be traced to the growth in its kindergarten class.

The district has 166 kindergarten students, 26 more than last year.

"This is very promising. It bodes well for the future,'' said Superintendent Jay Rowell.

Rowell believes the kindergarten increase may indicate enrollment in the district could soon be stabilizing.

The district has 2,309 students — the high school 770 and the middle school 389.

La Grande's four grade schools have a total of 1,150 students. Central is the largest with 407 students, followed by Greenwood with 339, Island City with 208 and Willow with 196.

The district is one of four in Union and Wallowa counties reporting enrollment increases.

On the other end of the spectrum is the Enterprise School District, which has lost 55 students since last year. The biggest drop took place at the grade school (kindergarten through sixth grade) level, where enrollment is down 35 students. The Enterprise district has a total of 433 students.

Enterprise Superintendent Brad Royse attributes the decline to Wallowa County's slumping economy.

"A lot of families are moving away. There are a lot of empty houses in Enterprise,'' Royse said. "We are still losing young families.''

Royse said what is happening in Enterprise is typical of what is occurring in much of rural America.

"It is frustrating to see this happening in rural communities,'' Royse said.

With the enrollment drop, the Enterprise district will probably face even more financial problems in the future, Royse said. The district has cut 16 teaching positions in the last two years because of budget problems.

Royse does not believe Enterprise's enrollment picture will improve soon.

"I don't see a quick turnaround,'' he said.

Things look brighter in the Union School District, where enrollment is up 33 students from a year ago. The district has 489 students, 241 in grades 7-12 and 248 in the grade school. Enrollment is up 16 in the grade school and up 17 in grades 7-12.

Union Superintendent Mike Wood is encouraged by the increase. However, he is keeping things in perspective. He believes Union's enrollment will come down as the year progresses, something that often happens in districts.

Enrollment is a critical piece of the financial puzzle in all school districts since they receive about $5,000 per student from the state.

In other school districts in the area:

Cove

Enrollment is up 23 from last year. All of the growth has been at the grade school, which has 157 students, 28 more than last year. Enrollment is down five at the high school, which has 74 students.

North Powder

The school district has 236 students, one more than at the end of last year. The elementary school has 157 students, nine more than at the end of last year. The high school has 79 students, eight fewer than last year.

Elgin

Enrollment is down 28 from the end of last year. The biggest drop has been at Stella Mayfield School (kindergarten through eighth grade). That school has 292 students, 23 less than last year. Enrollment at the high school has dipped by five to 125 students.

Imbler

Enrollment is up 10 students from last year. Enrollment in grades 7-12 is 167, up nine from last year. Grade school enrollment is 155, one more than in 2001-02. Imbler's largest class is its seventh grade, which has 40 students. Its smallest class is its sixth grade, which has 17 students.

Joseph

The district has 283 students, down 17 from a year ago. There are 108 high school students in grades 9-12, 10 less than a year ago.

There are 80 students in grades 5-8 and 85 in kindergarten through fourth grade. In addition Imnaha Elementary School has 10 students.

Wallowa

The school district has lost 16 students since last year. The biggest drop has been at the elementary level.

The grade school has 139 students, 12 less than the previous school year. There are 153 students in grades 7-12, a drop of four.

 
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