Originally published: The Nugget News; June 7, 2016

Sisters schools will move to a semester schedule in the 2016-17 school year. Superintendent Curt Scholl announced the change from trimesters to semesters in a letter to parents and community members on Friday.

“To start this school year, it was evident that our current schedule at the high school was creating various issues with allowing our students being able to have a full schedule,” Scholl wrote. “A combination of loss of staff, blocked classes, and scheduling core classes for all three trimesters contributed to this issue.

“We also had a conflict at the beginning of the year with staff members that are shared between the high school and middle school. The late-start schedules in the middle school and high school did not align with the classes we were trying to provide for our students.”

The need to align schedules was part of the impetus to make the change.

“Having the same schedule at the middle and high school is a priority as we share several staff members in these buildings. Additionally, class continuity, more options for all students during the school day, potentially lower class sizes contribute to us moving to a seven-period semester schedule next year,” Scholl wrote.

The district saw a small bump in enrollment to close the year. Overall enrollment stands at 1,118.5, up from 1,099 at the end of 2014-15. The high school showed a 27-student bump from May to June of this year, but most of that is accounted for by the district being allowed to count enrollment from the Heart of Oregon Corps program.

The statistics do not show an overall year-to-year increase in enrollment; the elementary school is down 10.5 students from the end of 2014-15 and the middle school is down 3.5. However, each school saw a couple of more students in June than they had in May.

As Superintendent Scholl noted at last Wednesday’s school board meeting, “We do have new students in every building.”

Enrollment is critical to the fiscal health of the district, because state funding is allocated on a per-student basis.