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The Corvallis School District has 111 fewer students enrolled this school year than the district had predicted, district staff told the school board at its meeting Thursday night.

The official enrollment count for the district, taken Oct. 1, is 6,807.

Olivia Meyers Buch, the district's finance and operations director, said the change in enrollment is significant because the district receives its funding from the State School Fund based on how many students it's enrolled. She said the district had expected enrollment would increase by about 40 over last year, so it had built its budget with the assumption of an increase in state funding.

Meyers Buch said many variables could affect state funding levels over the next few months, but the district could end up getting about $500,000 less than expected from the state.

Meeting materials presented by staff say this year's enrollment is down 68 students from last year. Meyers Buch said the district's enrollment has increased by a net of 69 students over the last 10 years.

"Over the long term, (enrollment) has been pretty stable," she said.

The meeting materials also said the average student-teacher ratio at district elementary schools is 21 and the average at district middle and high schools is 25.

On another topic, Meyers Buch presented to the school board the process that the district is undergoing to develop a multiyear strategic plan, which would propose strategic investments the district could make in its budget over the next five years.

The plan would be intended to use community input to guide district spending decisions over a longer term than a single-year budget and would be updated regularly.

Board Chair Vince Adams said the process of forming such a plan was a response to criticism the district has received that the public doesn't really have much influence over its yearly budget. By the time the district's budget committee sees the document in the spring, it's in a form that's difficult to change.

Meeting materials said the district plans to perform a public survey this fall and hold listening sessions Nov. 5 and Nov. 13. Staff members then would develop a plan based on this input and present the five-year plan at the Dec. 13 board meeting.

"This is really exciting to see," Adams said. "We are more than doubling the opportunities for the public to have input on our budget."

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Anthony Rimel covers weekend events, education, courts and crime and can be reached at anthony.rimel@lee.net, 541-758-9526, or via Twitter @anthonyrimel.

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