District 51 enrollment holds steady

PHOTO BY CHRISTOPHER TOMLINSON—Central High School teacher Becky Beverly works with freshman Aaryn Maes in a class this week. School District 51 officials had figured a 2011-2012 budget based on decreased per-student funding from the state because of decreased enrollment. Instead, enrollment is up by 38 students, according to a preliminary count.



083111 D51 enrollment

PHOTO BY CHRISTOPHER TOMLINSON—Central High School teacher Becky Beverly works with freshman Aaryn Maes in a class this week. School District 51 officials had figured a 2011-2012 budget based on decreased per-student funding from the state because of decreased enrollment. Instead, enrollment is up by 38 students, according to a preliminary count.

School District 51’s fear of losing students this fall compared to last fall hasn’t come to fruition so far.

As of Tuesday, the district had 21,123 kindergarten through 12th-grade students. That’s 38 more students than the district had on Aug. 31, 2010.

Kindergarteners are counted as half a student in the tally. Preschoolers are counted as part-time students, but they have not started school yet this fall. District 51 spokesman Jeff Kirtland said the district will offer 825 slots to potential preschool students this year, up from 800 last year.

“Early indications are that all those slots will be full,” Kirtland said.

The District 51 school board adopted a budget for 2011–12 in June that included $13.6 million in cuts. Some $1 million of those cuts were made because the district estimated it would lose 165 students this fall compared to last fall. The district will receive $6,100 per student this year based on an official student count that will take place at schools statewide on Sept. 30.

Colorado school districts conduct an official student count on or near Oct. 1 each year. District 51 counted 22,091 students in last year’s fall count and counted 22,030 students in fall 2009.

The school board would have to readopt the district’s budget to reflect any changes in revenue or expenditures.

Kirtland said the district will not make any budget decisions based on head counts before that day because enrollment tends to fluctuate after Labor Day and throughout September.

“These are very early numbers,” Kirtland said.

Early or not, they have convinced the district to change its projection from a loss of 165 students to flat enrollment year-over-year.

Even if the district enrolls more students than it originally expected this year, Kirtland said not all of the $6,100 for each child may be available to restore cuts.

“When you have more kids, you have more costs. You have to invest in materials and teachers,” Kirtland said.



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