District 51 enrollment at 5-year high

Valley schools have 832 more students this year than same time last year

School District 51 recorded the largest single-year increase in student enrollment in five years for the 2008-09 school year.

Superintendent Tim Mills reported to the Board of Education Tuesday that, as of Friday, the district had enrolled 832 more students this year than at the same point in 2007. Also during the meeting, the board finalized a shared-facilities agreement with the city of Grand Junction and agreed to co-purchase property with the city of Fruita.

“We still have students moving in and still have students moving out,” Mills said of this year’s enrollment count.

“By the time we get to that fifth week, our past historical trend data shows this is a good number for us.”

The district has grown by 2,114 students since 2003, Mills said. Prior to this year, the largest growth in enrollment between school years was in 2006, when the district took on 668 new students.

Several schools are reeling from the cramped space, Mills said, and the district is closely monitoring some, such as Rimrock and Thunder Mountain elementary schools.

The 832 new students represents a preliminary head count, and that number will most likely be different from the number reported to the state on Oct. 1, said board member Diann Rice. The number reported to the state is for budgetary purposes, she said, and some students, such as kindergartners, only get counted half.

The city of Fruita and the district will jointly purchase a 40-acre parcel of land at the corner of 16 and L roads, as per the agreement approved by the board. The land will be held by the city with the district as co-tenants, and the district will pay a pro-rated price for the 13 acres.

“This agreement is supporting community space and will be a future school site,” Mills said.

The district finalized its portion of an agreement with the city of Grand Junction that allows community use of the gymnasium at Chipeta Elementary after the city covered costs to expand the area during construction.

Heading into the district’s re-adoption of the 2008-09 budget in October, board member Ron Rowley said he would like to explore the possibility of a fuel economy incentive program to combat rising fuel costs. Drivers under the district’s employ could receive rewards for exhibiting driving behavior that improves fuel economy of district vehicles, he said.


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