South Whidbey, Coupeville enrollment go up, Oak Harbor expected to drop

Student enrollment numbers show increases for South Whidbey and Coupeville school districts.

Student enrollment within the South Whidbey School District is experiencing an unexpected increase, according to numbers for March.

During a school board meeting last week, Dan Poolman, assistant superintendent of business and operations for the district, said enrollment numbers rose, although there are still fewer full-time equivalent students than anticipated in the budget.

On Feb. 1, the school district had nearly 1,148 FTE students enrolled. This month’s report showed that number increased to 1,157.

“This is kind of an interesting scenario because this is something we normally wouldn’t see,” Poolman said.

Based on projections that follow historical patterns of enrollment numbers for the school district, FTE should have dropped to 1,142.

“It’s a direct correlation of coming back in-person, most likely,” Poolman said, adding that it will be interesting to see what that number is in April and if it will continue to grow.

All grade levels are currently back at school at least part of the time for in-person learning. Superintendent Jo Moccia said in an email that about 30 percent of students have opted to stay fully remote with their learning at this time.

Coupeville School District also experienced a slight growth in FTE students, according to Coupeville Superintendent Steve King. From February to March, FTE increased by about 19.

Similarly, about 30 percent of Coupeville students have chosen distance-only learning.

Enrollment at Oak Harbor Public Schools has been predicted to decrease.

There were 5,483 FTE students enrolled in September 2020, according to school data. Numbers for March showed that number had fallen to 5,400.

From February to March, there was only an increase of four FTE.

District Communications Officer Conor Laffey said in an email that parents of 20 percent of the district’s student population still prefer to have their children remain in distance-only learning.