Enrollment up in Olympia, Tumwater and south Thurston County schools

Student enrollment is tied to state funding, so it’s a number that’s closely watched by public school officials.

Several school districts in Thurston County, including Olympia and Tumwater, are reporting higher enrollment compared to last year.

Some of the biggest growth took place in the Olympia School District, which has about 200 more students, according to spokeswoman Rebecca Japhet. The 9,424-student district experienced a noticeable surge of new students at Madison and Roosevelt elementary schools, both of which are on the city’s east side.

“We’re seeing growth in those neighborhood areas,” Japhet said.

An increase of 64 students over last year’s count required some quick staffing adjustments in the Tumwater School District, according to district spokeswoman Kim Howard. The district added a new teacher at Michael T. Simmons Elementary for fifth grade, and a new teacher at Tumwater Hill Elementary for sixth grade, more teaching staff time for algebra and geometry classes at Tumwater High School and more classified staff support at Black Lake Elementary School for fourth and fifth grades, she said.

Yelm, Rochester and Tenino school districts also reported slight increases in their enrollments.

Rainier School District reported 797 full-time equivalent (FTE) students, which was about 35 FTEs more than it had budgeted for, said Tim Garchow, superintendent of Rainier School District

“We’re a very fiscally conservative district, so we budgeted lower,” Garchow said.

Compared to last September, though, Rainier is down a few students. District officials expected that, Garchow said.

“We did notice a drop last year when some troops were reassigned from JBLM,” he added. “We didn’t see the impact as much as, say, Yelm or North Thurston.”

South Sound’s largest district, North Thurston Public Schools, also experienced a slight dip in enrollment, with 66 fewer students than a year ago.

Like Rainier, North Thurston officials built a conservative budget, so the district didn’t have to undergo staff cuts, according to spokeswoman Courtney Schrieve. In fact, the district ended up adding a second-grade teacher at Olympic View Elementary and some additional teacher time for math and science classes at Chinook Middle School, she said.

In 2012 and 2013 the 14,420-student district experienced dramatic growth, adding more than 200 students a year.

“Our forecasts show future growth for our community,” Schrieve said.