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Enrollment on the rise

Number of local students goes up; Korach pleased

Enrollment in the Lake Oswego School District is up for the first time in five years, according to numbers compiled by the district.

As of this week, 6,783 students attend the district's 13 schools - 27 more than a final enrollment count taken in June.

The findings are encouraging for district officials who have worked to maintain the district's ideal size amid a downhill slide in enrollment that began in 1996.

'The good news is that we didn't take that 1 percent plunge again,' said Superintendent Bill Korach, adding, 'This is very positive compared to what my fear would be about a continued drop.'

The rise in enrollment is the second in a decade, with the biggest boost coming from the secondary level.

Lake Oswego and Lakeridge high schools both experienced a spike in numbers. LOHS went up 24 students; while Lakeridge went up by 47 students.

Additionally, Lake Oswego Junior High School increased by 16 students, but Waluga Junior High School dropped by one student.

Korach said the high school numbers are a pleasant surprise because those numbers tend to decrease. Many students leave the district at that time to pursue other avenues of education, such as community college or private school.

Results of the enrollment count vary at the elementary level, where student population dropped at the fastest rate.

This year, elementary enrollment differs from school to school, with some reporting large increases and others reporting lower numbers.

District officials are uncertain as to why overall district numbers have suddenly gone up for the first time since the 2002.

Officials are hoping it's not an anomaly, Korach said.

The high numbers this year could indicate that more students are choosing to stay in the district or are returning to the district, Korach said.

In the past year, two ad-hoc committees have discussed ways to fight the declining enrollment problem. Options included enhancing programs, marketing the district to outside students and potentially closing schools to consolidate resources.

The declining student numbers translate into a serious loss of revenue for the district, which relies on per-student state funding to the tune of $5,400 per pupil.

The state money supports nearly 83 percent of the district's $48 million annual operating budget.

The district hopes to use marketing efforts to attract home-schooled and privately schooled students. They are also hoping to market the district to students from other cities who want to attend Lake Oswego schools. They would be required to pay the district's annual tuition of $6,500.

So far, the marketing plan has included a study and piloting a large advertisement in The Oregonian.

The efforts so far appear to be working. Last year, the district had 27 tuition-based students. This year, that number is up to 38. Many of those students come from the Portland Public School District to attend LOHS.

'We haven't done the analysis, but I think some of our initial efforts are paying off,' Korach said. 'Beyond that, I'm not sure.'

The district will take another look at the numbers in October before submitting them to the Oregon Department of Education. Korach said overall enrollment typically goes up in the first month of school.

'The economic viability of the district drives school configuration, so this is really great news,' Korach said. 'Are we seeing gains? That's a question we won't be able to answer until next year.'

ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS

Forest Hills

June 2007 - 388

Sept. 2007 - 378

Lake Grove

June 2007 - 463

Sept. 2007 - 473

Oak Creek

June 2007 - 388

Sept. 2007 - 373

Uplands

June 2007 - 445

Sept. 2007 - 434

Bryant

June 2007 - 301

Sept. 2007 - 300

Hallinan

June 2007 - 355

Sept. 2007 - 329

Palisades

June 2007 - 330

Sept. 2007 - 309

River Grove

June 2007 - 296

Sept. 2007 - 302

Westridge

June 2007 - 327

Sept. 2007 - 336

JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOLS

Lake Oswego Junior High School

June 2007 - 634

September 2007 - 650

Waluga Junior High School

June 2007 - 528

September 2007 - 527

HIGH SCHOOLS

Lake Oswego High School

June 2007 - 1,238

September 2007 - 1,262

Lakeridge High School

June 2007 - 1,063

September 2007 - 1,110

OVERALL DISTRICT NUMBERS

October 2002

7,036

October 2003

6,997

October 2004

6,929

October 2005

6,896

October 2006

6,746

Current

6,783