LTUSD enrollment grows after last year’s decline |

LTUSD enrollment grows after last year’s decline

William Ferchland
Enrollment in Lake Tahoe Unified School District is up 70 students from the end of last school year. / Dan Thrift / Tahoe Daily Tribune

Although the numbers detailing student enrollment are better than at the end of last school year, James Tarwater is holding his breath.

In the last week of June, Lake Tahoe Unified School District’s enrollment, a crucial aspect in the business side of school districts, was 4,474 students. This month enrollment was listed at 4,544 students, a difference of 70.

Those who track enrollment in Lake Tahoe Unified, which has seen a steady drop in student numbers since the 1996-97 school year when 5,978 were enrolled in the district, might get excited. It’s the first time in awhile that enrollment has been greater at the start of a school year compared to the end of the previous one, officials said.

Yet Tarwater, the district’s superintendent, said the real indication of enrollment recovery is how the numbers hold up during the course of the school year. The previous September had 4,771 students during the start of that school year, which involved the closure of two schools, teacher layoffs and programs scrapped because of budget cuts.

Tarwater and others hope additions such as the return of class-size reduction, teachers and the new Lake Tahoe Environmental Science Magnet School will lure and keep students in the district.

“What we’re keeping our fingers crossed for is if we maintain our enrollment and if we don’t lose between October and June. (If that happens) we turned the corner,” Tarwater said.

At the middle school, enrollment has increased by 30 students from last school year, Tarwater said.

Yet its the kindergarten numbers that are a concern with 265 students this year compared to 292 kindergartners in the prior year.

The district receives state money from attendance figures, or how many students are at school during any given day.

Oct. 5 will be a big day for the district since its the day the state counts attendance in the district, thus determining the amount of money the district will receive.

Lake Tahoe Unified’s attendance rate is 93 percent. The optimum percentage is 98 percent. Each percentage point equals an extra $200,000 from the state.

Tarwater said reminders will go out to parents to make sure their children are at school that day.

“That’s a big day for us,” he said.

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