Enrollment declines in district

By By Dick Mason September 13, 2012 09:28 am

By Dick Mason

The Observer

The La Grande School District’s enrollment picture, on the rise two years ago, is taking a downturn.

Enrollment has dropped in the district for the second consecutive year, according to third-week student count figures. 

The school district has 2,119 students, down 54 from a year ago. Enrollment fell by 31 a year ago, but in 2010 it jumped by 60. 

A sputtering economy is likely the reason for the drop over the past two years, said La Grande School District Superintendent Larry Glaze.

“Young families are moving out of the area. These are tough economic times,’’ Glaze said.

Enrollment has a major impact on all public school districts in Oregon since they receive about $6,000 per student from the state.

The bulk of the enrollment decline is at La Grande High School, which has 581 students, 59 less than a year ago. The student count is also down at the elementary school level. The district has 1,038 students in kindergarten through fifth grade, 19 less than a year ago. Following is the elementary enrollment breakdown:

• Island City Elementary, 255 students, up 22

• Willow Elementary, 174 students, up 30 (Willow is a kindergarten-only school.) 

• Central Elementary, 376 students, down 55

• Greenwood Elementary, 233 students, down 16

On the bright side, enrollment at La Grande Middle School is up 4.8 percent. LMS has 500 students, 24 more than a year ago.

Glaze said he is also encouraged to see that kindergarten enrollment is up 30 students.  

“If this trend continues our overall number of students in the district will increase,’’ Glaze said. 

A number of other school districts in Union and Wallowa counties also are reporting declining enrollment, but student counts are up in the Cove, Elgin, Imbler, Joseph and North Powder school districts.

Enrollment in the Cove School District jumped 10 students to 285. Cove has 101 high school students and 184 in kindergarten through eighth grade.

Elgin has 382 students, up eight from last September. The bulk of the jump was at the high school, which has 132 students, an increase of seven. The jump is a welcome surprise to Elgin administrators who projected that Elgin High School would have 111 students, said Wayne Herron, district superintendent. Herron credits the increase to a higher than expected enrollment of transfer and home school students.

Stella Mayfield School has 250 students, one more than last year. Stella Mayfield, a part of the Elgin School District, serves students in kindergarten through eighth grade.

Total enrollment in the Imbler School District is 326 students, up five from last September. A small jump at the elementary school level is responsible for the increase. Imbler has 161 students in kindergarten through sixth grade, up six. Imbler has 60 students in grades seven and eight, the same number as a year ago. The high school has 105 students, one less than last year.

The Joseph School District has 239 students, up three from last fall. Its high school has 65 students, and there are 174 students in kindergarten through eighth grade, including five at Imnaha School.  

 The North Powder School District has 281 students, up nine from a year ago and 21 more than it had at the end of the 2010-11 school year. Powder Valley High School has 70 students, the same as last September. The school district has 211 students in kindergarten through eighth grade, up nine from 12 months ago.

Enrollment is down slightly in the Union School District and also dropped in the Enterprise and Wallowa school districts. 

Union has 377 students, one less than a year ago. The school district has 182 students in kindergarten through sixth grade and 185 in grades 7 to 12.

The student count in Enterprise is down 18. Enterprise has 380 students, 202 in kindergarten though sixth grade and 178 in grades 7 to 12. The bulk of the decline has been at the elementary school, which is down 15 students. However, Enterprise has a solid kindergarten class of 30.

Enterprise Superintendent Brad Royse attributes his district’s enrollment decline to the poor economy. He said that a number of young families who had been trying to weather it have left the area.

The student count in the Wallowa School District is down 4 at 229. Enrollment is 99 for grades 7 to 12, down one, and 130 for kindergarten through sixth grade, three less than a year ago.