Local schools see surge in student count
The Crook County School District has a substantial increase in enrollment this school year, resulting in the ability to hire more staff throughout the district.
"We are responding positively to this increase in enrollment," said CCSD Superintendent Sara Johnson. "We brought the leadership team together, identified the pain points, then problem-solved, utilizing everyone's best thinking. Everyone has a common aim: Do what is best for our students."
When the school year ended in June 2019, CCSD had 2,894 students. As of Sept. 9, 2019, there were 3,119 students – an increase of 225 students.
"The increase is more than we anticipated," commented CCSD Director of Business and Finance Anna Logan. "We budgeted for a 1 percent increase compared to last October, but our latest numbers show about a 4 percent increase."
Average Daily Membership (ADM) is used to determine state school fund payments. Using the additional state funding that comes from an increase in enrollment, the district will hire two additional elementary teachers, a middle school teacher, a special education teacher, and five instructional assistants.
The number of students needing special education services has also grown. In December, the district served 410 special education students. Currently, the district serves 456 special education students — an increase of 46 students, or 11.3 percent.
"I believe that the best work that I do is having great people in place," said CCSD Special Education Director Mona Boyd. "We have an amazing special education team. They are always looking for ways to create better situations, even when they are hit with the unexpected. They are working hard every minute of every day to meet the needs of our students."
Overall, district enrollment is up 8 percent from June.
Crook County High School grew 118 students, from 705 students in June 2019, to 823 enrolled in early September.
"It's exciting," stated CCHS Principal Michelle Jonas. "It's always an exciting time to be growing."
She added that they are getting students from a lot of different places in Oregon and different states. As of yet, there isn't information readily available to look at trends from the increase in enrollment.
"We are trying to get things as balanced as we can, because we weren't anticipating this increase," said Jonas.
The freshman class this year was forecast to be the smallest class, and now the freshmen are only seven students behind the largest class — which is the sophomore class.
Crook County Middle School enrollment increased 71 students. There were 610 students in June and 681 students earlier this month.
Barnes Butte Elementary grew by 16 students, from 633 in June to 649 earlier this month, and Crooked River Elementary gained 26 students, from 604 in June to 630 in the same timeframe.
The rural and alternative schools did not see an increase in enrollment.
"'Show Up' is one of our initiatives, and I would like to think that we're doing the right work," Johnson said. "We're trying to offer great customer service, and the community is growing. I think it's all a beautiful, perfect storm."
CCSD School Board President Scott Cooper said he heard a theory that families priced out of Bend and Redmond and are moving into Juniper Canyon, what could be the last affordable housing area in the region.
"When I look at the jump in Crooked River enrollment, there possibly seems to be something to that," he said.
Classrooms at the four Prineville schools are swelling, leaving teachers scrambling for desks and space. Johnson said the staff has gotten creative and is making some shifts in order to make it work.
The board agreed to re-engage the Long-Term Facilities Committee, comprised of board members, principals and district directors, to discuss the future of facilities.
"The Long-Term Facilities Committee has had different roles in the past based on the needs at the time," elaborated Logan. "Last year, the committee met for just a few months to review the current state of the facilities, compile a list of significant restorations or replacements that will be needed in the future, and create a report to the school board."
She added that this year, the committee is being renewed to look at all the school buildings through the lens of increased enrollment. The committee will then generate and consider ideas for long-term development of facilities space.
"We can bring back to the board a solution on what we are going to do to react to the lack of classrooms as quick as we possibly can," CCSD Board member Doug Smith said.
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