School’s out for summer. The next La Conner School District board director elections are in 2023, but this spring the district’s school board made slight adjustments to the five director district boundaries. The 2020 census obliged adjusting director boundaries to match population growth, now over 5,000 residents.
The school board voted on new boundaries at its May meeting, adopting maps that adjusted the five district boundaries distributing residents as equally as possible to fairly represent population growth without impacting traditional voting groups. Sammamish Data Systems of Bellevue was the consultant.
The five districts vary widely in the number of students living in each district, from 31 students in district 3, Shelter Bay; to 231 students in district 2, Swinomish Reservation; There are 71 students from La Conner, district 4; 73 students in district 1, Pull and Be Damned, westside of Fidalgo Island; and 85 students in the sprawling flats and farmland surrounding La Conner and west side of Swinomish Channel north or Reservation Road, district 5.
Out of district students are 16% of those enrolled, 95, the second largest segment. These are students who choose to attend and those now living out of the district but transported here, required by federal law, which ensures homeless children transportation to and from school.
The Swinomish Reservation sends the greatest number of students to school by far, 39%. In contrast, Shelter Bay has just 5.3% of the district’s students. The other three districts send about the same number of students as live in district 2. La Conner and district 5, the farmland surrounding La Conner, provided just over one-fourth of the students, 156, 26.6% this year. The accompanying table lists these facts.
The school district is projecting a drop of 56 students, to 530 in the fall, an almost 11% decline. If the number of school age children in the district remains steady, the enrollment decline may stem from parents homeschooling, pursuing on-line learning or sending their children to out of district schools.
Business Manager Brian Gianello has questions surrounding the reduction in students: Why have they not returned to in-person learning? Are families considering out-of-district options? How can the school district inform parents and children about the new improvements, exciting learning opportunities and many proven advantages that accompany attending La Conner Schools?
A letter writer suggested in May that fewer children may mean “that young families cannot find affordable housing in our district.”
School data provided by Jessie Nelson-Eisen, staff fiscal assistant. The data represents students enrolled through the middle of the past school year.