First-day student count up a bit


Fruita students duck, but not from hall monitor

Fruita Middle School students had a guest drop in before their first class of the 2010–11 school year.

A bat flew through a hallway in the south end of the building as the bell rang to begin first period at the school Monday. Fruita Police Chief Mark Angelo, who was there to help the first day of school run smoothly, saw students duck as the bat swooped through the first-floor hallway.

“It almost hit some kids on the head,” Angelo said.

Angelo said he was standing next to FMS Assistant Principal Larry Padgett, who quickly herded children into classrooms and told teachers to keep their doors closed until the bat was gone. The bat flew to the second floor of the building and sought refuge near a window until Nuisance Animal Control Services captured the bat.

District 51 spokesman Jeff Kirtland confirmed the incident and said the bat was removed from the building.

“Obviously the bat wasn’t registered for school,” Kirtland said.

— Emily Anderson

School District 51 had 130 more students in class on the first day of school this year than on the first day of the 2009-10 school year.

The district predicted in its 2010-11 budget that local schools will have 200 fewer students this October than they had last October, when Colorado school districts take an official tally. Last year’s October count found 20,030 kindergarten through 12th-grade students in District 51. The October student count totaled 22,159 in District 51 in fall 2008.

The district counted 19,557 students on the first day of school in fall 2009 and counted 19,687 students Monday. These tallies include all first- through 12th-graders who were in attendance on the first day of school, plus some kindergartners. Some kindergartners are not in class until the middle of the first week of school because they’re taking proficiency tests. Other kindergartners are included in the first-day tally because they take the tests during the second half of the first week of class.

The district does not comment on first-day tallies because they are often subject to change, District 51 spokesman Jeff Kirtland said.

“It’s not even close to an indicator of enrollment,” Kirtland said.

Superintendent Steve Schultz said the numbers were expected, but he has heard many parents say they are living with family members and may move in the weeks before the October count.

Mesa State College counted more than 7,500 students Monday, its first day of the fall semester, according to college spokeswoman Dana Nunn. The school started with about 7,000 students in fall 2009 and had 7,185 students on the last day of school in spring 2010.

Nunn said the increase was expected and could increase as more students enroll and high-schoolers taking classes at the college make their way onto the books. Also, some fall-semester classes don’t start until later in the calendar year.

On-campus housing is full, Nunn said, and about 50 students were living in local hotels as of the first day of school.

“It might be a little more than last year, but it was expected,” Nunn said.

The college most recently opened a residence hall a year ago on North Avenue. Mesa State is building a residence hall on the southwest end of campus. It is scheduled to open next fall.


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