Caprock Academy’s enrollment leaps 36 percent
Grand Junction charter school Caprock Academy ballooned from 470 students last year to 640 students this year.
The tuition-free school, which enrolls students through a lottery system, went from offering two classes each in kindergarten through third grades to three classes, and it added 11th grade this year. Caprock has added a grade level each year since opening in 2007 and will graduate its first class in 2013.
Caprock Headmaster Kristin Trezise said the school decided to offer more seats to students this year because its waiting list can be as long as 100 students. Even after this fall’s 36 percent year-over-year jump in enrollment, Trezise said the school has a waiting list of 50 to 60 children.
“There’s been quite a bit of demand,” Trezise said.
Due to growth, the school plans to hire a director of support services and a secretary before the end of the calendar year. The school currently has five administrators, four office staff, two health assistants, 20 instructional assistants and 35 to 40 teachers, and it contracts a guidance counselor, a speech therapist and an occupational therapist.
“We will probably add four to six positions each year for the next two to three years. We’ve got a lot of growth ahead of us,” Trezise said.
Trezise said she expects the school to have as many as 700 students next year. She said 800 students would be an ideal enrollment size, although she may change her mind if the waiting list continues to grow.
Additional enrollment is helping Caprock pay off $7.5 million in private bonds that the school sold to construct a building this year at its new location at 714 24 1/2 Road. Trezise said the school is using about 17 to 18 percent of the money it gets from the state funding formula to pay off the bonds.
The state funds public schools, including charter schools, based on enrollment and other factors, including how many students participate in the federal free and reduced-price meal program. Caprock receives an amount per student slightly less than School District 51’s state funding award of $6,137 per student, Trezise said, because 44.5 percent of district students participated in the free and reduced meal program last year, compared to 25 percent at Caprock.
The new building contains art rooms, band and vocal rooms, science labs, a gym and offices. Classrooms are housed behind the new building in modulars that had been used at the school’s former site at 640 24 1/2 Road.
Art teacher Tracee Flenard said she had to cart around her supplies when she started at Caprock five years ago, when the school was housed in Canyon View Vineyard Church. Now, she has space for a kiln, potters wheels and plenty of storage.
“There’s so much I can do now,” she said.
Science teacher Rashell McLennan said having two science labs and a science classroom will allow her to expand her lesson plans.
“We had a lab classroom before, but here we have the ability to have full high school labs. It’s very exciting, moving to a building with the appropriate equipment,” McLennan said.
Trezise said Caprock hopes to begin a second phase of construction in three to five years. That project would cost about the same amount as the first phase, Trezise said, and would add a two-story classroom building behind the first building and a dining area on the side of the school where hot lunches could be warmed and served, but not cooked.