LA GRANDE — The La Grande School District’s enrollment picture is brighter than anticipated.
The La Grande School District’s enrollment is now 2,164 students, up as many as 70 students from what it was at the end of the 2021-22 school year.
“This is very encouraging. We were hoping enrollment would be up between 40-55 students,” said La Grande School District Superintendent George Mendoza.
The enrollment jump is good news for the school district’s budget, because it receives about $8,200 per student from the state.
The news is particularly welcome in light of the enrollment decline the La Grande School District experienced after the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020. The school district’s enrollment dropped 230 students from what it was at the start of the pandemic. The decline was attributed to an increase in parents enrolling their children in online academies or choosing to homeschool their students.
Mendoza credits the enrollment increase to the fact the pandemic is subsiding dramatically, allowing school districts to provide education like it was delivered before the pandemic hit.
“There is a return to a sense of normalcy,” he said.
Mendoza said he believes parents want a more traditional experience for their children.
“Parents want their kids back in school,” he said, adding parents want their students to be able to take advantage of the educational programs and activities offered by the school district.
The La Grande School District now has 957 students at its three elementary schools, which serve students in kindergarten through fifth grade — 413 at Central Elementary School, 289 at Island City Elementary School and 255 at Greenwood Elementary School.
La Grande Middle School, which serves students in grades six to eight, has 480 students, and La Grande High School has 643 students.
The high school’s enrollment is up 30-40 students from the end of the previous school year.
“It is really encouraging to see these numbers grow,” said LHS Principal Brett Baxter.
Enrollment at the middle school is up 33 students. Principal Chris Wagner is not surprised by the increase because he noticed that a large number of students who had been away during the pandemic were enrolling before the school year started.
“I think a lot of families were waiting for things to get back to normal,” he said.
The school district’s numbers also include 12 students in its Rising Stars program, which serves grade school students, and 72 in its La Grande Virtual Learning Academy, which provides online instruction for students at all grade levels.