Oroville school enrollment remains higher than predicted

OROVILLE – Each summer the school board builds a budget based on what they think the enrollment will be the following year – Oroville chooses to be conservative in their estimates, but this year enrollment has been surprisingly higher than expected.

“We budgeted for 520 students, that’s counting kindergartners as half as required by the state,” said District Business Manager Shay Shaw at the board’s Monday, Feb. 22 meeting. “We currently have an enrollment of 588.19 and have had a 585 FTE average since the beginning of the school year.”

The enrollment numbers are important because the state pays basic education funds based on student population. Set your budget on too high of an estimate and the district comes up short when it comes to funding, that’s why the Oroville School Board tends to estimate on the low end based on the enrollment at the end of the year. However, the board was pleasantly surprised to hear from Shaw that the numbers remained high.

“So we’re doing good, the enrollment is going up,” said Shaw.

Superintendent Ernie Bartelson said the increase was coming from a variety of sources and commented that the district had seen quite a few new students whose parents worked for the U.S. Customs and U.S. Border Patrol.

The board discussed two new policies suggested by the state auditor and held a first reading of both. The first involves the district’s credit card and defines who can use the card. The second involves identifying “Theft Sensitive Items,” according to Shaw.

“The auditor would like the school district to put in place a policy on how to protect these types of items,” said Shaw. “More and more the district has small tech items that are expensive and can be easily taken such as laptops, iPods, etc.”

In his Principal’s Report, Steve Quick, junior/senior high principal, discussed the Driving Awareness Week organized by the Leadership Class (see related story, page B6). He also talked about the positive outcome from the Oroville band and choir students participating in the combined band and choir with other school districts.

“Kudos to Mrs. Whiteaker for setting up the Sitzmark day. It was really good to have them open up their doors and open up their slopes to the students,” said Quick.

He also discussed Oroville’s participation in a pilot project for the state for the Special Education Program.

“Kristen Sarmiento has put a lot of work into preparing for that,” said Quick.

Elementary School Principal Joe Worsham discussed the Principal’s Challenge (see related story, page 3), a program that gets the students to read more books, in his Principal’s Report.

“So far they have read 4283 books,” he said. “They read 3.5 million words just last week. At this point they are where I have to dress up in engineer’s gear – overalls, bandana and hat. If they read more Ernie and I have to sing railroad songs. Then I have to don engineer’s gear and go through an obstacle course.”

Worsham said teacher Julie Schildgen was selected Teacher of the Year for the Upper Valley and received a plaque and $1000 toward the ASB from Wal-Mart.

“Last week we sent three teachers to Tonasket to observe their math program. They’re about a year… year and a half… ahead of us in the Math Connects program,” he said.

Worsham also said the school participated in a lockdown drill the previous week. Lastly, the principal said some of the classes were putting together kits of school supplies to send to children in Haiti.