School enrollment, bus ridership figures rise

Enrollment figures for the South Whidbey School district are higher than anticipated.

During a South Whidbey Board of Education meeting Monday Supertintendent Martin Laster presented the district’s enrollment so far for the 2003-04 school year.

The budget for 2003-04 was based on 2,100 full-time equivalent students, or FTE. To date there are 2,133 FTE students in five schools and in the Shared Schooling Cooperative, or SSCOOP.

“Enrollment is one of our first revenue drivers,” Laster said. “We built the budget on 2,100; these numbers give us a little bit of space.”

The increased numbers had consequences at South Whidbey High School, pushing the school’s athletic teams out of 2A sports competition and into 3A competition.

Bus ridership numbers were also released Monday night in a report to the board.

Twenty-five more students rode the bus this year during Bus Ridership week than last year. The total count was 1,204.

According to a report prepared by District Transportation Supervisor Margaret Evans, fewer special education students rode buses, 39 compared with 45 last year.

Evans said in her report the decrease among those riders can be attributed to “mainstreaming a number of special education students aboard regular buses this year.”

The state counts bus ridership for one week each fall to determine the amount of transportation funding to the district for the coming school year.

Budgeted this year for transportation is $734,000.

In previous years, the state money covered about 70 percent of the district’s transportation department operating budget, including wages. The remainder, about 30 percent, has to come from the district’s general fund.

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