Schools report positive enrollment | Fewer students = less money

Enrollment remains fairly consistent for all of Federal Way Public Schools, a positive sign for the district and its finances, according to Sally McLean, assistant superintendent of business services.

McLean, giving a “back to school” report during the Sept. 13 school board meeting, prefaced her findings by saying that enrollment is a vital ingredient in any district’s financial well-being.

“One of the major assumptions in any school district’s budget is the number of students that we can expect to serve during a given year, versus the number of students that actually show up,” she said. “The very good news is, we are close to our projections.”

McLean said that even if the Federal Way district’s enrollment projections are 99.5 percent correct, the remaining .5 percent still equals a lot of lost revenue for the district.

“That other half percent, which is roughly 100 students, translates into the loss of about $500,000 in revenue, because of the way school districts are funded in the state of Washington,” she said.

Outside of that, McLean highlighted that the $10 million budget shortfall from last year, combined with the uncertain nature of the state’s upcoming budget, means FWPS has a much more difficult time meeting unexpected shifts in student attendance across the district.

“One of the things we are struggling with, as we go through this year, is having less flexibility. (We’re) being required to be more cautious with the way we make adjustments,” she said.

McLean highlighted some of the early average class size numbers from Federal Way’s elementary schools, saying the early numbers look good.

“We budgeted our grades 1-5 to be a class size of 24.4 (students), and our current average class size is about 23.4. And yes, that is an average. Some of our classes are smaller, some larger,” she said.

In kindergarten, McLean said, the projected class size was 20.5, and is hovering around 20.0 right now. Another positive note from the kindergarten realm was an increased enrollment in kindergarten classes.

“This is good news for overall enrollment in the district as a whole. Our numbers are up about five percent over projection,” she said.


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