School enrollment down

Drop in numbers could lead to reduced staffing

School district enrollment is down, which means changes may be coming.


The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District enrollment numbers are based on a 20-day count that took place last month.

"Overall enrollment trend for our district is down," Dr. Steve Atwater, KPBSD superintendent said during a presentation to the Soldotna Chamber of Commerce. "It's really clear we have a maturing population -- we have fewer children in our borough and it's definitely going down each year."

The count revealed enrollment for the 2011-2012 school year at 8,956 students, which is below the projected enrollment of 9,086, a difference of 130 students.

"It's quite a bit lower than what we thought it would be," Atwater said. "It's weird because we expected to have kids at some schools, particularly at Nikiski Middle/High School -- we thought we had about 38 kids are not there that we thought we'd have."

The district said the enrollment numbers are not official or final. Atwater said the declining enrollment could have a negative impact on the district.

"The ultimate consequence is we have to reduce staffing," Atwater said. "We just won't generate enough revenue to maintain our staffing. So we're really struggling on how to do that."

Atwater said since the district covers a large geographical area, it is more difficult to address the issue.

"If they were concentrated in one place it'd be easier," he said. "So we'd be looking at our pupil-to-teacher ratio, just put more kids in front of the teachers."

Atwater also shared the results of a survey of KPBSD graduates, which revealed that a large number of students stay within the state, while a much smaller portion still calls the Peninsula home. The survey polled KPBSD graduates from 2001 via mail and telephone -- 240 out of the 636 graduates responded to the survey, which equates to 38 percent, enough of a percentage, Atwater said, to make some assumptions.

"It's a great indicator of what you're doing as a school district, what's happening," Atwater said. "As people get out of high school, they tend to move around, by the time they're 28 or so they begin to settle down with what they're going to do with their life."

According to the survey, 86.2 percent of the graduates live in Alaska, with about 58.3 percent living on the Peninsula. "This is significant because any time you have a population, you want to see a cycle," Atwater said. "You want to see kids graduate, perhaps leave, come back and have children.

"The cycle is not as tight as it should be -- I would guess most of the students from our borough are probably in Anchorage or in the Valley."

A more comprehensive report of the study will be available after Jan. 1, Atwater said.  

Logan Tuttle can be reached at


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