West Linn-Wilsonville School District hosts 8,702 students

by: TIDINGS PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Bill Barber helps his daughter, Brooke, unload her supplies on her first day of kindergarten at Trillium Creek. Trillium Creek has 93 kindergartners this year.The official numbers are in. Enrollment in the West Linn-Wilsonville School District has increased by 243 students compared to last year. The district has swelled to a total of 8,702 students.

However, district officials said open enrollment is not to blame. Oregon’s open enrollment law came into effect during the 2012-13 school year.

The law allows a student to transfer to a new district without the old district’s permission to release the student. However, each school district dictates how many new students it will accept. The West Linn-Wilsonville School Board voted last February to open its doors to 255 new out-of-district students.

The district currently has 143 students through open enrollment — 75 students were grandfathered in — meaning only 68 new students came to the district through the new enrollment law. Deputy Superintendent Jane Stickney said the district can’t fully explain the surge in students.

by: TIDINGS PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE  - Melissa Morlan snaps a quick picture of her daughter, Evelyn Morlan, on her first day of kindergarten at Trillium Creek. Local kindergarten and first-grade classrooms have increased enrollment numbers this year.“A good number of people have just moved here,” she said during the Monday school board meeting.

Significant growth has been noted in kindergarten and first grade. Last year, the district offered 11 all-day kindergarten classes and 10 half-day kindergarten classes. This year, the district has 16 all-day kindergarten classes and nine half-day kindergarten classes. Stickney said a large class of fifth-graders and of eighth-graders have also moved into the middle schools.

Several teachers have been added to relieve overwhelmed primary schools, some part-time staff members have been bumped to full time, blended classrooms have been created and instructional assistant time has been increased in high-stress areas. Given all the variables at play, district officials feel confident with the teacher-to-student ratio.

“We don’t go by a formula,” Stickney said, referring to other school districts that hire based on student-to-teacher ratios. “We look carefully at each situation. ... We feel like we have staffing organized pretty well.”

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