Most North Olympic Peninsula school districts are recording declines in student enrollment early this school year as educators and administrators manage the fallout of a virus that stands to impact how K-12 education is delivered for years to come.
The only district that has not had a decline in enrollment is Cape Flattery.
Seeking to bridge a funding gap tied to lower enrollment, some area districts may be forced to cut staffing levels and introduce furloughs for employees.
Enrollment will be a school-year long consideration for each district.
Sequim School Superintendent Rob Clark said the district enrollment is 2,498 students, down 99 students from its 2020-21 budget model and between 185-190 students in total from 2019-20.
“The overwhelming majority of that decrease is reflected in our K-5 enrollment,” Clark said last week.
“These are loose estimates, but we probably lost 40 percent of those students to homeschool, 40 percent to online academies and 20 percent to local private schools.”
Clark said Sequim’s budget deficit was between $1 million to $1.1 million, but leftover CARES Act funding may be to cover a good portion of the difference.
“Based on what I was told in a regional superintendents’ meeting, there are further guidelines on the use of CARES dollars and they can potentially back-fill some revenue loss because of enrollment decline.”
Clark said the district would keep a close watch on student enrollment and discuss the budget situation in November.
“We are not laying off or furloughing any employees as of right now,” Clark said. “We will revisit the enrollment picture at the first school board meeting in November. That way we will have two more months of enrollment to look at.
“I think we will be OK if our enrollment remains steady. We were able to save some money over the final half of last year as expenditures were considerably less in the last six months of 19-20.”
The district has trimmed 40 staff positions compared to the previous academic year, Clark said Monday night.