District 51 enrollment sets record

School District 51 topped 22,000 students for the first time as officials this week reported enrollment at schools across the valley.

The district counted 832 more students for the 2008-09 school year compared with this time last year, bringing districtwide enrollment to 22,205 students.

Superintendent Tim Mills presented that figure Sept. 24 to the board of education during a presentation on the five-year growth of the district. He said the district had not taken on any new students between that report and Wednesday’s final count.

Mills told the board the fifth-week count historically has been an accurate count for the district. After the first week of school, the district reported 591 new students.

This year’s increase marks the largest enrollment jump during the past five years. The district took on 705 new students for the 2006-07 school year, the second largest increase during the period.

Enrollment has increased 2,114 since the 2003-04 school year.

“The numbers are continuing to go up, but we didn’t get additional space here,” Mills told the board, referring to the most recent school bond to pass, which was in 2004.

The enrollment reports are mandated by the state for budgetary purposes and must be compiled by Oct. 1 each year.

The number given to the state in December, will be different from the head count, however, because it will be a full-time equivalency count. That means some students, such as kindergartners, do not get counted as a whole student.

“This is the number we’ve got to make room for,” school board member Diann Rice said of the enrollment given to the state.


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