By Arwyn Rice
Peninsula Daily News
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The October district enrollment report, presented to the Port Angeles School Board at Monday’s meeting, revealed that there were 1,882 students at the elementary school level — 22 more than in 2011 — a slight reversal of a trend of big losses among the youngest students.
There also have been additional new-student registrations since the October count, boosting the increase to 28, Finance Director Kelly Pearson said.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen that,” said board President Patty Happe.
Overall, the district lost 33 students, with the total enrollment for October at 3,864, compared with 3,919 in October 2011, Pearson said.
In May, the board decided that if elementary schools lost another 100 students, using the October 2011 elementary school full-time enrollment of 1,860 as a baseline, the process would begin for shuttering Franklin Elementary School for the 2014-2015 school year at the earliest.
It would be the third school closed in the district this century.
Monroe Elementary School, 106 Monroe Road, was closed in 2004 because of declining enrollment.
Fairview Elementary School was closed in 2007, with students moved to the newer, larger Roosevelt Middle School building, while Roosevelt Middle School students transferred to Stevens Middle School.
District officials said in May that it would take two to four years to prepare for a school closure, including moving necessary services to other schools, and to build additional classrooms at another school to house students from the closed school.
A class of 262 kindergarten students began classes this fall, according to the enrollment report.
The smallest elementary school class is the second grade, with 240 students, and largest is the sixth grade, with 278 students.
The announcement was welcome financial news to board members.
“So we are not taking major cuts,” said board member Lonnie Linn.
Schools are funded by the state according to attendance, with a payment of more than $5,000 per full-time enrollment.
Middle school down
Stevens Middle lost the most students — with an enrollment of 567 — 43 fewer students than the school had in 2011.
Most of the middle school loss was in the movement of a class of 320 eighth-graders who advanced from Stevens to Port Angeles High School this fall and who were replaced by a small class of only 262 new seventh-grade students entering the school.
The group of 320 ninth-graders is currently the largest class in the district and one of only three classes with more than 300 students.
Two of those three classes are at Port Angeles High School, and the third is the current eighth-grade class at Stevens.
Next year, when the 305 members of the Class of 2017 move to the high school, they will be replaced by only 278 new seventh-graders.
The school eliminated one of the school’s five learning teams to reflect the loss of students, said Stevens Principal Chuck Lisk.
Reporter Arwyn Rice can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5070, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.