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50 more students enroll at district

The Mercer Island School District was pleasantly surprised to find that more than 50 extra and unexpected students showed up for classes on the first day of school.

Now, two weeks into the school year, total enrollment numbers at the district is 52.4 FTE above what administrators calculated for in the 2008-09 budget.

In total, there are 1,718 elementary students this year (531 at Island Park, 577 at Lakeridge and 609 at West Mercer), 947 middle-school students and 1,382 high school students. These numbers are comparable to 2007-08. The only academic level where FTE dropped this year was at Islander Middle School, which is under-budget by 10 FTE. Elementary school is 25 FTE above 2008-09 budget estimates and Mercer Island High School is 38 FTE above. There are 73 students in the district’s bilingual program, 386 students in special education and 124 who earn vocational FTE funds. All of these numbers are higher than last year.

Despite welcoming more than 85 students through open-enrollment, class sizes have not increased, according to Superintendent Gary Plano, with the exception of a ninth-grade English/American studies block class that has since been divided into three sections.

“There were over 30 students in this first- and second-period class, so we added another teacher and turned two sections into three,” Plano said. “Now each class has a little over 20 students.”

Because enrollment numbers exceeded those planned in the budget, Plano was able to add staff FTE time to each of the elementary schools.

“Since we came out above budget, I restored four previously cut hours to each of the three elementary schools,” the superintendent said.

The average class size for 2008-09 is 23.3 students. In comparison, last year’s average was 23.2 students. School Board members expressed satisfaction with this year’s enrollment and praised efforts made to keep class size at a minimal level.

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