Although numbers will continue to fluctuate through this week, most area school districts marked high enrollment figures during the first week of school.

The Umatilla School District, for example, jumped to 1,362 this year, an increase of 18 students.

“We normally see an increase after Labor Day as well, so we’re anticipating that we’ll have kids come in Tuesday for their first day of school,” superintendant Heidi Sipe said. “It’s been a number of years since we started before Labor Day.”

The calendar change came at the request of the community, however, as all parents and community members have the option to vote on proposed school district calendars.

“The majority of those who submitted their surveys this year wanted an earlier start, so we started earlier,” Sipe said, adding the district enrollment will continue to fluctuate. “Our enrollment traditionally ebbs and flows throughout the year, so it’s common for us to see an increase at the beginning of the year, then a decrease. The challenge in a district with mobility such as ours is estimating funding and making adjustments while students are in classrooms.”

In the Stanfield School District, Superintendent Kevin Headings said enrollment is up slightly.

“We are at about 550 students overall right now, and at this point last year we were at 544, so we’re up about six. It actually looks like we’re down in our elementary school just by a few and then we’re up in our secondary school,” he said. “We’ve maintained those numbers through the last five to 10 years. We’ve gradually increased by 20 (students) over the past five to 10 years.”

Unlike districts in Umatilla County, however, the Morrow County School District saw a decrease from the end of the 2009-10 school year to the first day of 2010-11.

“Right now we’re down a little,” Superintendent Mark Burrows said Thursday. “We had 2,230 students last year, and right now it looks like we’re at 2,212. Heppner schools are down a bit, Boardman schools are up, and Irrigon schools are down. Because those numbers are pre-Labor Day, I’m hopeful that we’ll bounce back up another couple kids. When you start before Labor Day, a lot of parents just don’t get it, and a lot of people are still moving. Normally our numbers go up until October.”

And October is an important marker for school districts and funding. Enrollment figures will be reported to the Oregon Department of Education in October, and those numbers — the average daily membership (ADM) from July 1, or the first day of school, through Oct. 1 — will determine funding from the state level. Districts report those numbers quarterly: The second period ends Dec. 31, the third on May 2 and the fourth on June 30 or the last day of school.

“On Oct. 1, our ADM will look a little different because our numbers don’t settle until the end of Labor Day week,” Headings said. “We have a lot of families who go to school in another district, like Hermiston, that’s really full, so they’ll transfer over. Plus, families tend to move during Labor Day weekend and might not be settled. For us, that could mean an increase of five to 10 students, but we won’t know until they walk in the door.”

Officials from Echo School District did not return phone calls by press time.

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