Despite a still lagging economy, enrollment is higher than projected in both the Washougal and Camas school districts.
Washougal’s full-time equivalency count is 2,833, an increase of 39 from last September, and 84 more than projected in the budget.
The FTE count for Camas is 5,887 students, an increase of 259 from last September, and 1.4 perecent more than projected in the budget.
Donna Gregg, director of business services for the Camas School District, said the increase is likely due to several factors.
“I would credit the excellent reputation we have as a school district,” she said. “Our staff and programs continue to provide an outstanding educational experience for our students. In addition, the withdrawal of the HomeLink program from Camas did create an additional impact to our district’s enrollment.”
Superintendent Mike Nerland agreed.
“When I speak with new families moving into the community, many times they mention they have researched the area and chose Camas because of the quality schools,” he said. “I also believe the effort by city leaders to attract new businesses such as Fisher Investments into our area has led to job creation and as a result, more families moving into our area.
Washougal Superintendent Dawn Tarzian expressed similar sentiments, noting that all but one school had increased its enrollment more than projected.
To better handle the influx of students, Washougal plans to hire two half-time kindergarten teachers, a second-grade teacher, and a combination fourth/fifth-grade teacher.
“However, we must proceed cautiously, not knowing at this point the stability of the new children’s residence in our district,” Tarzian said.
Both districts receive approximately $5,000 per full-time student.
However, if the child moves out of district, a full allocation will not be received from the state, despite any staffing additions.
Gregg said additional teachers and support staff were hired last spring in response to a projected 1 percent increase, and more will be added.
“We are hiring additional staff in both certified and classified positions,” she said. “We are in the process of meeting with the building administrators to determine where we need to add additional staff to best meet the needs of our students.”