District 51 to re-evaluate future student enrollment

District 51 will re-evaluate its student enrollment forecasts to determine if a tough economy will slow projected growth in the district.

Superintendent Tim Mills told the board of education Tuesday night that the district’s demographer, Shannon Bingham, will revisit his projection of 2 percent annual growth in student enrollment, which would have put enrollment at more than 24,000 by 2013-14.

In August, Bingham called Grand Junction’s economy a “juggernaut,” and as late as October said the area would continue to see an influx of jobs even in a slow housing market, which would in turn bring students to the district.

“Lots of work is going on,” Mills said. “Lots of investigating.”

A committee of parents, teachers and administrators has been formed and divided into three subcommittees, Mills said, to explore options to manage enrollment growth after voters shot down a bond package in November that would have built new schools.

The subcommittees will examine the facilities at the district’s most crowded schools, the possibility of acquiring additional spaces to convert into educational facilities as well as alternative scheduling to accommodate more students.

The board also heard a presentation on the results of a 2007 youth risk behavior survey, which revealed that while 71 percent of high school students think smoking is harmful, roughly half had tried cigarettes at least once.

Theresa Coons, who presented the information to the board, said students seemed to understand smoking’s harmful effects but not the effects of other risky behavior.

About a quarter of students said behavior such as drinking one or two alcoholic drinks daily, binge drinking over a weekend or trying marijuana was harmful.

“It’s sobering,” board member Diann Rice said of the survey results.


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