WENATCHEE — About 88 more students than expected showed up for classes at Wenatchee schools this fall, which isn’t enough to help the budget much, but doesn’t hurt it.
“It looks like we are in the ballpark,” Larry Mayfield, the district’s chief financial officer, told the school board at the Nov. 26 meeting.
The largest enrollment bumps are at the middle and high school levels and the Wenatchee Valley Technical Skills Center, according to Mayfield’s report.
Enrollment at Foothills, Pioneer and Orchard middle schools is up by 42 students over the budgeted number, with 40 of those students registering at Foothills. Wenatchee High School has about 33 more students than anticipated and the number of Wenatchee Valley Technical Skills Center students is up by about 23 students (if the part-time hours are combined to come up with full-time equivalent).
The number of students enrolled at the district’s seven elementary schools is down by about 16 students overall, though it varies. Lincoln Elementary, for instance, has 18 students more than expected, but Mission View has 28 fewer than expected.
The district also shows an increase of about 61 students from kindergarten through grade 12 who qualify for special education.
“That was a surprise,” Mayfield said, though any additional revenue there is likely to be offset by extra staffing needed to serve the additional students.
The enrollment boost overall won’t have a big impact on basic education funding, he said. Some specialty program revenues will increase as a result. The skills center revenues could climb by $203,000.
“So that’s good news,” he said.
Reasons for the enrollment changes are difficult to pinpoint. In the case of the skills center, it’s likely the recruitment done last spring, Mayfield said.
“The overall outlook is positive,” he said, despite the district’s ongoing financial challenges.
The district embarked on belt-tightening efforts last year to deal with what was then forecast as a total $5.2 million budget deficit for the 2019-20 school year. Budget projections for this year now show the district expects to spend about $875,000 from its general fund balance.
“The big shortfalls we had and the cost-cutting measures we took ended up saving us money,” Mayfield said. “Right now, we’re in fairly good shape because of enrollment.”
The year-end report for the 2018-19 school year showed the district restored about $1.2 million to its fund balance from the previous year. Of that, about $525,000 was money not earmarked for other programs.
“In big round numbers, for a district with a $110 million budget, putting $525,000 into a fund balance is cutting close to the bone,” Superintendent Paul Gordon said. “You don’t get much closer than that. That is hitting a target. Well done.”
The Eastmont School District in November had about 119 more students than last year at this time, and about 157 more than was budgeted for the year. The largest increases were in the kindergarten class and the 12th grade classes, each with about 39 more students than expected, according to the report presented to the school board Nov. 12.
Both school districts reduced enrollment projections last year based on trends of the past few years.