Gar Co school districts feel growing pains again |

Gar Co school districts feel growing pains again

John Gardner
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Kelley Cox Post Independent

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” “Growth” has become a permanent word in Garfield County school districts’ vocabulary. Preliminary enrollment numbers indicate a twofold increase in new students for both Roaring Fork School District Re-1 and Garfield School District Re-2.

According to RFSD superintendent, Judy Haptonstall, preliminary numbers indicate RFSD enrollment is up about 4 percent over last year. However, Haptonstall stressed the fact that these numbers are just a look at enrollments and are not as accurate as the October 1 counts will be, and the numbers will more than likely fluctuate through September.

“It looks like we are at about 4 percent growth,” Haptonstall said. “We are used to being about 1 to 2 percent growth, so if this holds steady we would be double over last year.”

Early enrollment numbers put RFSD at 5,226 students, K-12-grade after the first week of school. That is up from 5,022 students as of October 1, 2007. That increase would also be the highest RFSD has seen in the past decade.

“That 4 percent could dwindle,” Haptonstall said.

The reason for enrollment numbers to fluctuate from the first day of school to October 1, according to Haptonstall, is that there are a number of students each year that were enrolled at the beginning of the school year but have recently moved without contacting the district, or kids that were not present at school for the first week of classes that may or may not return, as well.

The state has set the October 1 date for districts across the state to get a more accurate student count to help set the districts’ budget for the corresponding school year.

“We have a month before we tie the numbers down,” said Re-2 director of districtwide services Theresa Hamilton. “The counts are dependent on so many things.”

Hamilton said that Re-2 anticipated a 5 percent increase over last years’ count for new students. Early numbers indicated between a 6 and 7 percent increase, but Hamilton said that by September 2, that number had decreased to about 5.5 percent. Early numbers show Re-2 at 4,640 students, an increase of 257 students overall from the year before with the highest increase at the middle school level.

“Rifle Middle School is probably our largest school in the district now,” Hamilton said. “We’ve got four modular classrooms out there at this point and the school is at 775 students. That is bigger than both of our high schools.”

Sopris Elementary School in Glenwood Springs also is bursting at the seems again this year nearing 600 students. Enrollment for 2006-07 school year was 554. The district has placed four modular classrooms at the school to alleviate some of the overcrowding issues.

“It appears they are up about 30 students this year,” Haptonstall said. “But that could be way off.”

For Re-2, with the addition of Elk Creek Elementary School in New Castle and a new Riverside Middle School, the growth hasn’t been as noticeable. For 2007-08 school year, Kathryn Senor Elementary in New Castle recorded 548 for its October counts, while this year KSE’s preliminary numbers are at 337 and Elk Creek is at about 272.

Added together that’s 609 K-4 elementary students, a growth of 61 students or 11 percent increase over last year.

“That is pretty significant for an area like New Castle,” Hamilton said. “But now that we’ve got a second elementary school ” thanks to the 2006 bond passed by voters ” we’ve got a little room for growth.”

Contact John Gardner: 384-9114

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