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County schools see drop in rolls

The ranks of Oregon schoolchildren are still growing, but enrollment is falling in most districts in Jackson County, according to figures released today by the Oregon Education Department.

There are currently 566,067 public school students in the state, an increase of 3,239 since last year.

Oregon's public school enrollment has increased nine times during the last 10 years, but that growth isn't universal across the state.

School districts in the Portland suburbs, Salem and Central Oregon are boasting the strongest growth, while Portland, Eugene and Medford have all posted small drops in their student population.

Medford reported 82 fewer students, a 0.7 percent drop.

"It's about what we expected," said Todd Bloomquist, Medford schools curriculum director. "We are hoping to bottom out, but it probably won't happen for two to three more years."

In other local districts, enrollment in Ashland is down 61 students, or 2 percent; Butte Falls has 19 fewer students, for a 10.3 percent decrease in enrollment; Central Point declined by 93 students, or 1.9 percent; Prospect decreased by 25, for a 13.8 percent drop; and Rogue River reported a decline of 37 students, or 3.4 percent.

Eagle Point, Phoenix-Talent and Pinehurst reported enrollment growth.

Eagle Point added 33 students for a 0.8 percent increase. Phoenix-Talent added 39 students for a 1.4 percent increase. Pinehurst gained a single student, giving it a 3.8 percent increase.

The new figures show that minority student enrollment continued to increase, while white student enrollment decreased. Hispanic students accounted for the largest increase in student population, growing 5.3 percent.

There are 391,393 white students attending Oregon schools, down about 4,700 from last year, and 95,172 Hispanic students, up about 4,800.