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Jefferson County School District 509-J has more students than start of last year, but trails 2019 totals

PMG PHOTO: HOLLY SCHOLZ
 - Enrollment in 509-J schools is up over the fall of 2020, when COVID canceled face-to-face instruction and prompted many into outside-district options. Above, Madras Elementary School Librarian Tiffany Mitchell welcomes second-grader Zulayka Farhat to Elizabeth Salyer's classroom on the first day of school, Tuesday, Sept. 7.

Student enrollment went up only slightly from a year ago for the Jefferson County School District 509-J.

Enrollment has increased from 2,754 students for the 2020-21 school year to 2,783 for this school year, an increase of 29 students or a little more than a 1% increase, reported 509-J Director of Curriculum and Instruction Melinda Boyle on Sept. 23.

There were 2,900 students enrolled in the fall of 2019, which is about 117 more students than there are currently in the district.

"Our enrollment is up from last year but down from 2019. Our state school funding will likely be less because of the decline in enrollment from 2019," pointed out 509-J Communications Coordinator Joey Prechtl.

A year ago, 509-J students began the school year in distance learning because of pandemic-related state guidelines. Students returned to school in-person in early February and finished out the school year in buildings.

As of Sept. 23, 666 students attended Madras High School. There are 70 students at Bridges High School; 411 at Jefferson County Middle School; 287 at Buff Elementary; 317 at Madras Elementary; 255 at Metolius Elementary; 516 at Warm Springs K-8 Academy; 17 at Big Muddy; and 244 with 509J Online. An additional 18 students are enrolled in 509J Preschool, but those students are not included in the state ADM.

A total of 14 students have transferred into the Jefferson County School District this school year, and 51 students have transferred out of the district, which includes 15 to charter schools. These numbers are based on interdistrict transfer requests received and do not include home school students.

Of the 2,783 students, 244 are enrolled in the district's remote online program, 509J Online, formerly known as CASA, Boyle said. This includes 83 elementary students, 60 middle schoolers, and 101 high school students.

District online teachers guide the students who are enrolled in the 509J Online program. Students participate in online learning five days a week and take a full load of courses. Students can accelerate their learning through the self-paced curriculum, and teachers are available for support throughout the day.

"We are pleased to see our enrollment stay steady throughout what has arguably been the toughest time for public schools," Boyle said. "We think this is a testament that our parents are pleased with the education their children are receiving and for that, we have to thank our incredible teaching and classified staff. They have gone above and beyond throughout the pandemic, and before, to reach our students and truly allow them to flourish in our schools."


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