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School Enrollment Trends Upward

POLK COUNTY -- School enrollment for districts in Polk County appears to be up or holding steady after the first four weeks of the 2013-14 school year.Schools track enrollment closely as funding is directly tied to the number of students attending in each district.The most dramatic change year-to-year was in Falls City, where the schools have seen significant growth compared to 2012-13.Last year at this time, the district reported 132 students, with just 38 at the high school. This year, 156 students are enrolled K-12, with 52 students in classes at Falls City High School."I'm really pleased," Falls City Superintendent Jack Thompson said. "If we can maintain that or maybe increase it a little more, I would be very happy."Central School District also has seen a substantial increase.This time last year, Central was looking at 2,813 students. Now, there are 3,065 across the district.Once the 2013-14 school year got under way, the administration was expecting an increase, but was surprised by 60 students who seemingly came out of nowhere."I was just doing some studies on grade levels from this year, and it appears the freshman group is higher than we anticipated," Buzz Brazeau, CSD superintendent, said. "We ended up with 237 freshmen. We anticipated about 215."The 60 students were fairly evenly spread across the district, with slightly more coming in at the freshman, senior and kindergarten levels.Thompson noted the increase at Falls City will have more of an impact on next year's budget as funding for all schools is based on the previous year's enrollment. "I'm not going to spend that money until it maintains itself," he said. "It's not extra money; it's trying to get us back to where we should be."Prompted by requests from teachers, Central added staff in response to its increase, including a teacher at the high school and a classroom aid.In Dallas School District, enrollment has stayed essentially flat compared to 2012-13. Current enrollment sits at 3,220, up slightly from the 3,205 reported at the same time last year. Dallas enrollment includes Luckiamute Valley Charter School, which has 208 students, up from 206 last fall.Superintendent Christy Perry said enrollment in recent years seems to be holding steady, with no unexpected fluctuations."I'm happy not to see a decrease," she said. "You always hope you are bumping up a little."For Perrydale School District, maintaining the status quo is the name of the game.With 321 total students, Perrydale is down slightly compared to last year's enrollment of 330.The bulk of Perrydale's students come at the elementary, with 147."What's weird is we have less kids at the high school than we did last year," said Sheila McCartney, middle school and high school principal. "We also have a really big eighth-grade class this year but most classes are average for what we've been having."Kings Valley Charter School is reporting 187 students, seven more than at this time in 2012-13.

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