Bellevue schools enrollment up 278 students beyond projections

To prepare for the increase in students, more than 50 full-time equivalent (FTE) teaching positions were added for general education and music, 6.2 FTE for special education teachers and other resources and 6.8 FTE secondary counselors.

 

The additional $7 million collected from a 2010 educational programs and operations levy was used to help reduce the average class size in the Bellevue School District this year, but if the current growth trends continue, the surplus may have to become a line item.

This year, enrollment in Bellevue grew by 598 students, 278 more than projected for the 2014/2015 school year, according to the most recent figures supplied to the school board during Tuesday night’s meeting.

Nearly all of the $7 million was originally going to be spent on additional staffing to meet the increasing number of students and decrease the average class size, but the growth is more rapid than expected, and additional classrooms were needed as well.

Melissa deVita, deputy superintendent of finance and operation, told board members the average elementary class size dropped 1.2 students, but the overall number of students in kindergarten through fifth grade, grew 3.4 percent year-on-year.

“We can’t build fast enough to match this growth,” she said. “I think we’ll have to add some more portables.”

Additional instructors also will be needed, above and beyond the 160 new teachers hired this year, she said.

To prepare for the increase in students, more than 50 full-time equivalent (FTE) teaching positions were added for general education and music, 6.2 FTE for special education teachers and other resources and 6.8 FTE secondary counselors. An additional 13.5 FTEs were added this fall once the district realized the projected growth was nearly 50 percent higher than initially planned.

Currently there are only two elementary classrooms with 30 students compared to the 11 classrooms that had at least 30 last year, deVita said.

This year, Woodridge, Phantom Lake and Clyde Hill elementary schools grew more than the average enrollment. Tillicum Middle School saw the largest drop in average class size, from 28.3 students for core classes last year, to 24 in 2014/2015.

Staff is currently working identifying how to further reduce class sizes, while monitoring this year’s enrollment and what impact those smaller class sizes may be having on students.

 

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