Ferndale down 300 students; Meridian alone sees a rise
WHATCOM — Enrollment is down at most schools countywide, with some districts seeing their numbers decrease by hundreds of students.
Ferndale has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic’s effects on enrollment. Mark Deebach, district assistant superintendent for business and support services, said Ferndale has seen a drop of about 300 students, equating to a loss of about $2.8 million in state funding.
That loss, compounded by voters’ rejection of the district’s programs and operations levy last February, is forcing Ferndale to be more frugal than ever before, Deebach said.
“Part of our plan to address the levy was using a considerable amount of our savings account, so we didn’t cut the full amount to make up the full deficit from the levy,” he said. “We’re using savings. So, the $2.8 million on top of that means that basically any flexibility or wiggle room or anything we had is now gone, so we’re going to have to be extremely frugal even per our own plan going through the rest of this year.”
Deebach said the added losses make the district’s Nov. 3 re-run of the levy a crucial decision for voters. The district is running the levy at a lower rate per thousand dollars of assessed property value than its initial appearance on the November 2019 ballot.
For comparison, the Washington State Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction’s monthly FTE report shows that Ferndale had 4,453.72 full-time-equivalent students in September 2018, a number that decreased by about 22 as the school year started in September 2019.
Official 2020 enrollment numbers of districts reported to the state are not available yet. Local districts reported in general terms.
The Lynden School District is down by between 225 and 250 students, according to Shari Shagren, administrative assistant to Lynden School District Superintendent Jim Frey.
The Nooksack Valley School District currently sits at 1,821 students enrolled; last September it had 1,842. That computes to a 1.2% decrease, 21 students, year to year.
The Meridian School District was at 1,694 students in September 2019 and now sits at 1,769, up 75 students. That’s about a 4.5% increase in enrollment.
As for Mount Baker, the district has seen a loss of a little over 100 students, equaling out to about a 4% decrease in enrollment from September to September.
Despite opening in person, Lynden Christian still recorded a small drop in enrollment. Last year’s number was 1,128 while this year’s is 1,121. But LC graduated a large senior class.