Fewer students expected in 2011 in District 51

A Front Range demographer predicts local schools will shed 165 students between the end of this school year and the beginning of the next.

Shannon Bingham, owner of Western Demographics Inc. in Boulder, also predicted 200 fewer students would enroll in School District 51 in fall 2010, but the district experienced a net gain of three students. The failure of that prediction was taken into account in formulating a projection for this fall, according to District 51 Board of Education members who discussed the figure during a retreat Thursday.

City and county officials have told District 51 Superintendent Steve Schultz the number of utility holders has remained steady in the past few years, something the officials attribute to people having no place to go to find work once they lose it here. But with local unemployment at 10.2 percent as of December and year-over-year unemployment rates improving in nearly two-thirds of the nation’s metropolitan areas, Schultz said the loss in students predicted for last year could well be on its way.

“The dam that’s holding people here could break, and we could lose 400 students,” he said.

In planning for the 2010–11 budget, Schultz said, “We don’t want to plan on zero loss” of students. Subtracting 165 students from the budget would equate to $1.067 million in per student revenue in 2011–12. That’s money that would be lost on top of state cuts that could total $4 million to $12 million.


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