Lynden SD

(Courtesy photo/Lynden School District)

Lynden head count up 80 over budget, NV has 200 kids in kindergarten

LYNDEN — Student enrollment numbers across the Lynden and Nooksack Valley school districts have been steadily rising for the last five years. 

The Lynden School District has close to 3,400 students this new school year, compared to 2014-15 when enrollment was at 2,670 students — a 27 percent jump. Nooksack Valley enrollment is up 100 students since last spring, more than a 5 percent increase, Superintendent Mark Johnson said. 

“With anticipated Running Start enrollment, we will be close to 1,900 [full-time equivalent students],” Johnson said of the current year. “Our kindergarten has 200 [full-time equivalent students], far and away the largest in district history, reflecting our ongoing enrollment growth.”

Lynden Superintendent Jim Frey said his district anticipated the growth a little earlier than it actually happened.

“We were kind of going at a relatively manageable rate and the last three years have been more significant than a reasonable rate,” he said. 

Frey said the Lynden district is at about 80 more kids than what it had budgeted. Last school year, enrollment was 100 kids above budget. 

The growth happening in the Lynden School District is putting challenges on its schools for space, Frey said. To accommodate, everyone has had to get creative.

“For classrooms, you utilize every space you can, so if a classroom was used for small groups not on a full-time basis, you convert those into everyday classroom spaces,” Frey said. “Computer labs were converted into classrooms and we purchased portable classrooms and set them down.”

There are now two portable classrooms at Bernice Vossbeck Elementary and one at Isom Elementary. 

Converting rooms into everyday class space pushes other services to areas that may not be as adequate as before, Frey said. The district is quickly running out of space for its students. 

Last week, the Lynden School District announced that it will definitely have an Enrichment levy on the February 2020 ballot, and it might also have a Technology and Facilities levy, too. In the new way of school funding since 2017, the first levy is expected to make up about 12-15 percent of Lynden’s total budget.

In addition to the two levies just announced, Frey said the district will have to start looking at bonds over the next few years.

“Five of our six schools have some of the highest population they ever have had as far as head count,” he said. “We need to take a look at some enrollment boundaries. We’re quickly getting to the point where we’re going to need another elementary school and we’re out of space at the high school, so we’ll have to do something there, too.”

The Mount Baker School District actually saw a drop in enrollment this school year, with its head count down 31 students to 1,833 from the 1,864 last year. Its full-time equivalency is also down 34.17 students to 1,748.60 compared to 1,782.77 the previous year. 

Mount Baker Superintendent Mary Sewright said these current numbers are still more than what was expected for the school year.

“Although there is a loss of enrollment, these numbers are still above what we projected for budget purposes, which was 1,714.06,” Sewright said.