Enrollment at SD2 stabilizes

2010-10-07T19:40:00Z 2010-10-08T13:59:05Z Enrollment at SD2 stabilizesROB ROGERS Of The Gazette Staff The Billings Gazette
October 07, 2010 7:40 pm  • 

Compared to numbers collected last October, enrollment in Billings School District 2 grew by seven students, district officials reported this week, bringing the total to 15,623.

Districts are required by the state each October and February to perform enrollment counts to figure their rate of student attendance. The state then uses the information to calculate the amount of funding the district will receive.

“Early indication is as a district we are beginning to see the stabilization of our enrollment,” Superintendent Keith Beeman said.

Much of SD2’s growth happened at the elementary level, where enrollment grew by 98 students. That was countered by a drop of 57 students at the district’s four middle schools and a drop of 34 students at its three high schools.

Skyview High saw its enrollment increase by 43 students, the largest increase of any single school in the district. However, West dropped 42 students and Senior dropped 35 students.

“We will continue to see some decline at the middle school and high school level,” Beeman said.

Enrollment drops earlier in the decade had occurred at the district’s elementary schools, leading to the dips being seen now at the middle schools and high schools. Now, with the slight increase in enrollment seen at the elementary schools, the district’s secondary schools will eventually begin to see their numbers rise as the students grow up, Beeman said.

The district’s largest increase at the elementary school level was at Burlington Elementary, which saw its student body grow by 42. Following Burlington was Meadowlark, which saw an increase of 30 students.

The biggest drop was at Washington Elementary, which saw a dip of 48 students. Washington was followed by Big Sky, which saw its enrollment drop by 30 students.

Overall, the elementary district’s smallest class is the sixth grade with 1,039 students. Its largest class is the first grade with 1,225 students.

At the middle school level, Riverside dropped 36 students; Castle Rock dropped 15 students; Lewis and Clark dropped six and Will James held steady with no drop and no growth. Combined, the district has 2,301 middle-schoolers and 5,151 high-schoolers.

As district officials crunch these numbers and move forward with their strategic planning process, they’re exploring the idea of commissioning a demographic study for the district.

Officials are interested in learning how much growth to expect over the next decade to better design school boundaries that more efficiently distribute the district’s student body. It could also help the district decide if it needs to close schools or build new ones.

The district is working with Davis Demographics & Planning, based in Riverside, Calif. The studies Davis Demographics produces help districts figure out where student-age children will be living in the future, how to house them efficiently in district schools and how to better draw school boundary lines.

Beeman said the study would help the district get a sense for what’s happening in Billings behind the numbers and better prepare for the future.

Contact Rob Rogers at rrogers@billingsgazette.com or 657-1231.

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