CMU enrollment up, D51 enrollment down

Colorado Mesa University system enrollment stretched above 9,000 this week, a first for the school.

Colorado Mesa takes a census count of its students each year the day after Labor Day in order to give students a couple weeks to enroll or drop out after classes begin. On Tuesday, 9,046 students were counted on Colorado Mesa’s Grand Junction and Montrose campuses and at Western Colorado Community College. Another 80 to 90 students are expected to be added to the enrollment count soon as high schools process paperwork for concurrent enrollment for their students in college courses.

Colorado Mesa counted 8,844 students the day after Labor Day 2011.

This year’s 2.3 percent growth in enrollment is modest compared to the 14.1 percent jump year-over-year in Colorado Mesa’s student count last September. A smaller increase is to be expected as the “Baby Bust,” a slowed birth rate after the “Baby Boom generation,” takes hold, according to Colorado Mesa President Tim Foster. He said single-digit growth gives the school time to “take a breath” after larger growth periods and he is satisfied with a 2.3 percent bump when enrollment declines are predicted for other Colorado institutions.

“Some years, being up a little is a pretty big deal,” Foster said.

Foster said he’s not sure how much enrollment has grown at the school’s Montrose and Grand Junction campuses. But with 2,379 students at Western Colorado Community College, he said WCCC is up only three students year-over-year. Flat growth was anticipated, according to Foster, and the community college is looking to address stagnant enrollment by “getting more aligned with the job market.”

Even though “selective” admission standards will go into effect next fall at CMU, Foster said he anticipates 3 to 5 percent growth in fall 2013 enrollment. He hopes to obtain financial help from local and state governments to build a new classroom building.

“We’re about to run out of classroom spaces and you don’t want to wait ‘til you’re out. We’re in a good spot right now but we need to get going or we’ll be in a bad spot,” Foster said.

Colorado Mesa opened an apartment complex for upperclassmen this year and broke ground on a new residence hall in mid-August. The residence hall will be paid for through bonds paid off by student room and board fees.

As for local pre-kindergarten through 12th-grade students, School District 51 counted 135 fewer students the day after Labor Day 2012 than on the day after Labor Day 2011. The district had 21,813 students on Sept. 6, 2011, and 21,678 students this Tuesday.

The district anticipated a decline of about 200 students on Oct. 1, 2012, compared to Oct. 1, 2011, in its current year budget. Colorado school districts take an official count of students during an 11-day window around Oct. 1 each year to determine how much money each district gets from the state.

Unlike the post-Labor Day count, which counts each child separately, the annual October count tallies full-time equivalent students, which means each full-time student counts as one student, while part-time or kindergarten students count as a fraction of a student. Each full-time equivalent student enrolled in District 51 this year amounts to $6,141.19 in state financing provided to the district through the Public School Finance Act. The district anticipates a drop of the equivalent of at least 61.9 full-time students in its 2012-13 budget from the 20,975.8 full-time equivalents counted in October 2011.


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