Enrollment neither bursting nor busting | PostIndependent.com

Enrollment neither bursting nor busting

by Carrie Click
Post Independent Staff

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – After reports that enrollment was down at Roaring Fork School District schools this year, the numbers are starting to go up.

Monday, district superintendent Fred Wall reported an overall increase of 23 students throughout the district’s 13 schools, meaning that 4,787 students are currently attending an Re-1 elementary, middle or high school.

Wall said that last week, enrollment numbers indicated the district had lost 36 students from last year’s total of 4,764.

“We had some errors in numbers,” which happens during the first few weeks of school with students coming and going as a result of family moves and summer vacations, Wall said.

However, new numbers indicate enrollment is actually up by 23 additional students.

“In just a week, we had a net loss of about 30 students and a net gain of about 20,” Wall said of the swing in enrollment, characteristic of the first month or so of each school year.

That’s good news for the district, since the Colorado Department of Education provides state funding to each district based on student population. Districts are hurt when enrollment consistently goes down over time, since funds are decreased over a three-year period in a district with declining numbers.

The amount of funding per student changes each year according to a formula that considers inflation and other factors. This year the figure is $6,075 per student, which in Re-1’s case, amounts to an additional $139,725 in state funds for the added students.

“When you start looking at an additional 23 students, you need to start looking at adding teachers,” he said of the extra funding. “Other costs such as textbooks, food service and transportation also factor in.”

Since it’s difficult to create a budget based on fluctuating student numbers, Wall said the district prepares its budget each year based on zero percent growth. That generally helps keep the budget in control and balanced, he said.

Wall said coming up with accurate enrollment numbers isn’t as easy as simply counting heads. He said the district’s finance director, Shannon Pelland, has to consider half-time students, such as youngsters in kindergarten and Bridges High School teens, who have a more open schedule.

Yampah Mountain High School isn’t figured into the equation at all. That school receives state funding each year based on a constant, 100-student-count enrollment.

Wall said final numbers, which are submitted to the state, aren’t tabulated for the state’s tally until Oct. 1. By then, students will have shifted and settled into their schools, and the numbers will be much more accurate, he said.

In the meantime, district officials will continue to carefully watch student numbers until they report their final numbers to the state.

Contact Carrie Click: 945-8515, ext. 518


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