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Washougal School District forecasts that enrollment will increase

CAMAS — The Washougal School District is projecting an enrollment of 2,992 students for the upcoming school year, 214 more than it had at the end the 2020-21 school year.

District financial manager Kris Grindy revealed the projection as part of a presentation on the district’s 2021-22 budget, which was subsequently adopted by the Washougal School Board, during an Aug. 24 meeting.

“As we reopen this fall for five-days-per-week in-person (learning), we have a number of families who have re-enrolled, and we are hoping that trend continues so we can continue to serve students and their families,” said Les Brown, the district’s director of communication and technology.

The $52 million budget includes investments in accelerated programming, modern curriculums, career and technical education, fine arts, the district’s one-to-one technology initiative, staff development, facility maintenance, enhanced summer learning opportunities, outreach to Spanish-speaking families, free Advanced Placement and SAT exams for all students, and free meals for students.

“We have figured out how to make sure that we’re not skipping out on student achievement, (become) fiscally resilient and resolve those issues that have been present to keep moving forward with an eye on the prize that all of our children are going to rise,” Superintendent Mary Templeton said during the Aug. 24 meeting. “We feel pretty solid about where we’ve been and where we’re headed.”

The district hopes that some of those programs can re-attract some of the learners it lost in the past two years. The district concluded the 2020-21 school year with 2,778 students, a decrease of about 250 from the 2019-20 school year.

“We are optimistic that our district’s resources and investments in student programs will have a positive impact on enrollment,” Grindy said. “Enrollment (projection data) has a four-year trend that includes birth rate analysis which will be reviewed over time. But the trend does not consider the Washougal School District’s ability to re-attract students that are currently opting out of our district for other opportunities like home-schooling or transferring into other districts.”

The district is budgeting for 175 teachers, down from 180 in 2020-21, and 157 full-time equivalent classified staff members, up from the 146 in 2020-21, adding employees for its dual language, transitional kindergarten and Washougal Learning Academy programs, as well as health room aides to support its COVID-19 protocols.

Grindy said that the district “will achieve budget stabilization and become fiscally resilient” during the next four years by “adjusting the budget plan to current funding models and anticipating enrollment trends.” She noted that the district is anticipating a larger incoming kindergarten class for this school year, “which will impact our K-3 funding over the next four years.”

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