Student Numbers Down, Increases Predicted

Declining enrollment in the local school district is starting to turn around, according to Superintendent Dr. Steve Atwater, but it won’t be in time to keep the two Soldotna area High Schools separate.


Atwater said the Borough’s population has been increasing, but that hasn’t been reflected in student enrollment numbers until now…


Dr. Atwater: “The overall trend continues to be down, unfortunately. We peaked at 10,500 students and today we have 8,709 and so the trend is down each year. We keep dropping and dropping and dropping about 1 percent. The only encouraging piece that we have in terms of enrollment is that our kindergarten classes the last few years have been relatively large, in comparison to other classes, and so it seems like the cycle may be turning.”


Dr. Atwater also tied oil and gas development in the northern areas of the Peninsula to future enrollment…


Dr. Atwater: “There is a lot of expectation, because of the increased economic activity with oil and gas that there’ll be a lot more kids in our schools. We haven’t seen any of that yet, no evidence that that’s changing. Hopefully it will, and with the news yesterday about the potential of a pipeline coming down to Nikiski, great news for us and will hopefully bring more people.”

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