Nyssa student enrollment up by about 200 students

NYSSA – School enrollment in Nyssa increased by nearly 200 students, while other districts saw a decline and some held steady in Malheur County.

The Oregon Department of Education report, released last month, compared students from kindergarten to grade 12 from the fall of 2023 to the fall of 2022.

The report showed Ontario, Vale and Adrian with fewer students.

Ontario went from 2,281 to 2,211, while Vale had 946 students in 2022 and 935 last fall. Adrian had four fewer students in 2023.

In Nyssa, enrollment went from 1,321 students in 2022 to 1,504.

Nyssa’s jump in student enrollment is a result of the virtual school the district established in 2022.

The Nyssa district has roughly 1,100 students enrolled separately from the online school.

Ryan Hawkins, Nyssa’s interim superintendent, was the driving force behind the experiment to teach students from afar.

The board approved the pact with My Tech High, to begin enrolling students from kindergarten through fifth grade and offering personalized, online education. Hawkins said the district subsequently expanded the school to the eighth grade.

Nyssa was the first to adopt My Tech High in Oregon. The online school provides teachers and nearly all elements of school. The company splits state school revenue awarded per student, with Nyssa getting 40%.

Hawkins said Nyssa has 400 students currently enrolled in the virtual school. He said most are enrolled from the west side of the state, along the Interstate 5 corridor.

Meantime, Oregon’s public school enrollment continues to lag. According to state education department data, 5,000 fewer students were enrolled in 2023 and over 30,000 fewer were enrolled than before the pandemic.

Hawkins said educators need to figure out how to get kids back in school.

“When the population of Oregon’s schools is going down that much,” he said, “we have got to find a way to get them back. It’s not like they’re leaving the area.”

There were questions about whether the virtual program would work for Nyssa. All students qualify for free lunches because of the district’s household income level. Hawkins said district officials worked with the Department of Education to determine that the virtual enrollment wouldn’t materially change that eligibility.

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