Student enrollment lower than last year

Bolton Primary lost 51 students while West Linn High School is down 55 from last year

As students settled into their classrooms last week, administrators noticed a trend throughout West Linn - a cursory head count added up to unexpectedly low enrollment figures.

Bolton Primary, which is the smallest primary in the district, lost 51 students for a head count of 265 students this year. Stafford and Sunset primary schools were down as well, while Cedaroak Park Primary, Willamette Primary and Three Rivers Charter School gained only one student each.

Meanwhile, Athey Creek Middle School gained the most with 37 students more than last year's 563 students.

Even West Linn High School lost students, putting its total student body at 1,503 - down 55 students.

While the district won't finalize an official count until Sept. 30, the early report is still puzzling.

'Historically, this report usually reflects that there are more students in school than the year before,' Superintendent Bill Rhoades said. 'This breaks the pattern of the past few years.'

In the past, the district often picked up a few more students after the first week of school.

Yet, the district is planning on opening two new primary schools next year - Trillium Creek in West Linn and Lowrie in Wilsonville.

School board members had a few concerns on Monday, but at that point very little analysis had been done.

Board vice chairman Keith Steele asked how the data would affect funding from the state, which awards school districts money based on student average daily membership or enrollment numbers.

'There is still some water to pass under the bridge to see how this matches the ADM,' Rhoades said.

Board member Betty Reynolds wondered how the information fits into the bigger picture.

'For years, this (district) has had rapid growth,' she said. 'Are we looking at a downward trend?'

The enrollment dip does not appear to be an issue in Wilsonville, where the only WL-WV school showing a lower enrollment this year is Boeckman Creek, whose student body of 644 lost 24 students.

The district's long-range planning committee will be tasked with providing more thorough analysis.