Enrollment drop at Highline Public Schools leads to cutting of 15 teachers

On Friday, Sept. 21, Highline Public Schools announced that they are starting the 2018-19 school year with 700 students fewer than projected, which means that – because the state funds school districts on a per-student basis – they will suffers a loss of $3.5 million in revenue.

The district says that they will need to spend some of the money set aside to prevent budget cuts next year, and reduce staff by 15 teaching positions.

“The demographer who projects enrollment numbers for most Puget Sound districts — and who is typically right on target — believes this is due to the increasing cost of living in our area, which is accelerating faster than anticipated,” the district said.

“The bottom line is that we have more teachers than our funding supports,” Superintendent Susan Enfield said. “Some students will need to be moved to different classrooms. I know this is not what anyone expected, and I understand how disruptive and disappointing these moves will be. We will do everything we can to minimize the impact on our students.”

Enfield added:

“I want to be clear that we would be in this situation regardless of our recently bargained salary increases. I am committed to paying all our staff competitive salaries in order to attract and retain the high-quality professionals we have here in Highline. Teacher pay will not be affected and no teachers will be laid off. Displaced teachers will be moved to other positions or to our substitute pool to reduce our costs for substitute teachers. This will help us make up the revenue shortfall.

“As good stewards of public dollars we must operate within our means. By keeping our expenditures in line with revenue this year, we will avoid significant layoffs and program cuts next year.

“If your child’s class will be affected, your principal will contact you by Wednesday, September 26. If you have questions or concerns, please contact your principal, or you can contact me directly at [email protected] or 206-631-3070.”


2 Responses to “Enrollment drop at Highline Public Schools leads to cutting of 15 teachers”
  1. Pam Fernald says:

    700 fewer than projected students? Why? Where did those students go?

    Charter or private schools? Moved away? Bad number projections?

    700 fewer than projected students? Then WHY is a new middle school being built in North SeaTac?

    Something doesn’t make sense…

    • James Lovell says:

      Dr. Enfield alludes to the overall “why?” as being a general move to lower-cost areas. Interestingly, there is an identical number of overcounted students in Seattle (700), whose sup’t also suggested cost-of-living as the reason. It’s harder for Highline to justify the change, I think, since we cross 5 municipalities or places. Also, we’re smaller than Seattle big a 2:1 clip, so there is definitely some more work to be done here, I agree. Lots of unanswered questions.

      As for the Middle School, I don’t know that I see the bad projection as being related. I don’t know what percentage of students are middle schoolers in the 700 student total over-projection. More germane is the upcoming transition from a two-year middle school system (7th & 8th grades) to a 3-year middle system (6th – 8th grades). That should equate roughly a 50% increase in the total number of middle schoolers.