Enrollment up in District 51

Student enrollment in School District 51 increased this school year for the first time since 2010, according to data released Tuesday by the Colorado Department of Education.

District 51 projected flat enrollment for 2013-14 but counted 21,894 students in October. That’s 164 more than CDE reported the district had in October 2012. District 51 spokeswoman Christy McGee said the district counted closer to 21,827 students in fall 2012, which means an increase of 67 students year-over-year.

Either way, enrollment has grown but not enough to convince the district student counts will remain on the upswing in years to come.

“We’ll see” if a trend develops, McGee said. “At this point we’re still consciously monitoring enrollment and our budget and state predictions.”

More students mean more money for the district. Every Colorado school district counts students during a window each October to help determine how much state funding districts should receive throughout a school year. Each district gets a set amount of money per student based on an adjusted count that tallies kindergartners as half a student and full-day kindergarten students as 0.58 of a student.

District 51 currently gets $6,311 for each student based on an average of adjusted enrollment tallies from up to five recent years. The district’s adopted budget for 2013-14 estimated the adjusted count would be 20,811.2, but the average will be higher when the District 51 school board re-adopts the budget Tuesday, according to McGee, likely adding about $500,000 extra to the current budget.

Nineteen District 51 schools experienced an uptick in enrollment year-over-year in 2013-14, while two dozen schools experienced a decrease in enrollment. One school, Broadway Elementary, had an unchanged student count.

With a gain of 53 students year-over-year, Nisley Elementary had the largest enrollment increase among District 51 schools. Enrollment at Grande River Virtual Academy dropped by 63 students, the largest decline in the district.

Nearby school districts De Beque, Montrose, and Garfield Re-2 in Rifle all gained students in fall 2013 compared to fall 2012. Enrollments dipped at Plateau Valley School District in Collbran, Delta, Garfield 16 in Parachute and West End Re-2 in Montrose County.


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