After the fire, Blaine sees attendance increase

Although thousands of area residents were evacuating their homes last month, fleeing the fast-moving Beaver Creek Fire, attendance is up in the Blaine County School District this week.

Director of communications Heather Crocker said 3,288 students attended class at the district’s eight schools Wednesday.

blaine-county-school-district-logoThat’s an increase of 30 students, or about 9 percent, compared to Day 2 from 2012-13. Tuesday was the first day of the school year, but sophomores through seniors did not have to return to Wood River High School until Wednesday, which is why second-day totals are being reported.

Attendance figures are important to schools because funding is distributed based on average daily attendance – not straight enrollment.

Lightning started the Beaver Creek Fire on Aug. 7, and the fire has scorched more than 111,000 acres. It was reported contained Saturday. Blaine officials took several steps to accommodate students and their families in the wake of the fire, which forced thousands of area residents to evacuate or await evacuation orders.

Out of concern for displaced families, Superintendent Lonnie Barber and district leaders said they would accommodate all students regarding registration needs and return to school.

Additionally, school leaders made all outdoor sports practices voluntary due to air quality concerns and offered to instead bus athletes to nearby Carey for training.

Like what you’re reading? Sign up for our weekly newsletter »

Despite concerns over the fire, the school year began on time, signaling the beginning of a return to life as normal.

“I think (the first day) was probably little more welcome after the last couple of weeks this community has had,” Crocker said. “Once we got past that point that school was going to open on time, we didn’t have any problems I’ve heard of with regard to the fire.”