The big three Tri-City school districts added 1,318 students this fall once the official state counts were complete, with more than half of their total growth coming in Pasco.
The Mid-Columbia's smaller school districts are reporting small ups and downs as they updated their enrollments with the state on Monday.
The state uses the districts' numbers to determine how much basic education funding each district receives during the school year.
Richland School District's growth has continued to be steady. Rich Puryear, Richland executive director of financial services, said enrollment has increased about 2 percent each year.
The district added 259 students, growing from 10,921 to 11,180 as of Oct. 1.
To deal with growth, the district hired about 15 more teachers and four more support staff for the 2010-11 school year. And Puryear said they have added about three more teachers and two more support staff since September to accommodate growth.
The number of students in each grade has grown overall, with the most growth in elementary grades, he said.
Kennewick School District, the area's largest, has seen a similar growth pattern, reaching more than 16,000 students for the first time this year, said Lorraine Cooper, district director of communications and public relations.
Kennewick is up 369 students, from 15,877 students to 16,246 as of Oct. 1. That number doesn't include students who attend only Running Start programs at Columbia Basin College.
The district added staff for the new Cottonwood Elementary, which opened this year with more than 500 students. The new school was needed to keep up with enrollment growth.
Cooper said the increase is more than the district expected but within what the district can handle without adding more staff or classes growing too large.
Pasco School District has continued to outstrip the growth of all the rest, adding 690 students to grow from 14,437 to 15,127 students, a growth rate of 4.6 percent.
The school district has added an average of 700 more students each year for the last decade. The district also has added more than 1,000 teachers and support staff and has opened six new schools. This year, the district added more than 84 teachers.
And Pasco Superintendent Saundra Hill has said the district still needs a new middle school and elementary school to accommodate its growth.
In the rest of the Mid-Columbia:
-- Prosser School District is down about 60 students, from 2,941 students last year to 2,881.
The Prosser School Board is considering whether to ask voters to pass a bond to pay for a new high school to replace the current overcrowded one.
-- Finley School District is down nine students from last year, with 978 compared with last year's enrollment of 987. Colleen Cowan, district business manager, said enrollment has stayed steady.
-- North Franklin School District has added 33 students, growing from 1,964 to 1,997 students. Construction has continued on a new Connell Elementary School, off West Clark Street across from the junior high and high schools. The new school is meant to help accommodate enrollment growth at the current 50-year-old elementary school.
-- Columbia School District has29 fewer full-time students this year. The district had 831 full-time students this October compared with 860 last year.
-- Kiona-Benton City School District's enrollment information was not available Monday afternoon.
-- Kristi Pihl: 582-1512; firstname.lastname@example.org