Redmond is a fast-growing city, having added nearly 2,500 residents since 2017, according to U.S. Census estimates. But its school district isn’t seeing the same growth in student population.
Redmond School District, which includes the Terrebonne, Tumalo and Crooked River Ranch regions, as well as its namesake city, added 20 students between October 2018 and a preliminary enrollment count Tuesday, according to district data. That’s a growth rate of 0.31%. Last year, enrollment rose 0.29%, according to the school district.
Because Tuesday’s enrollment count was preliminary — the official count will take place Oct. 1 — Superintendent Mike McIntosh said he believes even the modest 20-student bump will disappear, as it’s common for initial numbers to slightly shrink after a month.
McIntosh said he was confused why Redmond’s school population is staying flat despite the “unending” number of homes and apartments being built in the area.
“It makes zero sense,” he said. “We believe the phenomenon is, people are moving to Redmond but have no school-age children. Why that is, we don’t know.”
The exception to that trend is kindergarten, where enrollment has grown by 11.3%, or 55 students, since October, according to the district. The larger-than-expected kindergarten class has resulted in the school district hiring a new teacher at the kindergarten-only Redmond Early Learning Center to keep class sizes reasonable. The class size at the Early Learning Center, which hosts all kindergarten students within the city of Redmond, is 23-24 students per teacher, McIntosh said.
McIntosh said Redmond is more affordable for young parents, who would have younger kids, compared to Bend. In Bend-La Pine Schools, elementary enrollment shrank this September by 31 students despite posting larger enrollment gains districtwide.
“Young families can still buy or rent a home or live here,” McIntosh said.
The superintendent said he predicts that Redmond schools will continue to see enrollment gains in the younger grades that will trickle through the other schools, instead of 2019 only being a one-year bump.
“The kindergarten boom will be the new norm … and our high schools and middle schools and older elementary classrooms will be the recipients of that boom,” he said.
High school enrollment in the school district stayed essentially flat, losing only eight students between Ridgeview and Redmond High.
Despite that, Ridgeview added 80 new students between October 2018 and Tuesday for a total of 981 students, while Redmond High, with 916 students counted Tuesday, shrank by 88. McIntosh said the reason for this isn’t mainly due to students leaving one school for the other, but rather that families moving to Redmond are choosing to live in Redmond’s south side, near Ridgeview, where many new housing developments were just built. In central and northern Redmond, which feeds into Redmond High, new developments are unfinished, he said.
“There’s plenty of growth in new homes in the north end; they just aren’t ready today. South-side developments are occupied,” McIntosh said. “I’m going to predict that the north side next year will either be in a similar or closer position, based on new homes and apartments being built in the next 12 months.”
Due to young families moving to the area, as well as a 485-unit affordable housing project expected to open on Redmond’s east side, McIntosh said he expects Redmond’s student enrollment to explode at any moment, even if it isn’t this year.
“We’re waiting for the crazy development to catch up,” he said. “We sit and wonder if this is going to be the year or not.”
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