Steamboat enrollment as projected, despite small kindergarten class
Steamboat Springs — Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include Oct. 1 enrollment numbers for South Routt.
Official school enrollment numbers taken Oct. 1 counted 2,515 students in the Steamboat Springs School District, exactly the number district officials budgeted for this spring.
“That doesn’t happen too often,” said Superintendent Brad Meeks.
District enrollment was tallied at 2,527 students on the first day of school, before dropping to 2,508 in mid-September and landing at 2,515 last Thursday — the day the Colorado Department of Education collects enrollment data to determine per-pupil funding.
The district managed to come in on target for total enrollment, despite lower than expected kindergarten enrollment of 175 students, compared to a moderate projection of 198 kindergarteners in a demography report the district received in January.
When contacted by the district about the discrepancy, demographer Shannon Bingham said he didn’t believe the kindergarten number was significant enough to discredit the five-year report by Western Demographics.
“The effect on five-year expectations should involve significant care and potentially another year of data before re-forecasting for long-range projections,” Bingham wrote in a letter to Meeks Monday.
Bingham said other districts in the state have also been surprised by lower than expected kindergarten enrollments this year and some demographers are exploring theories for the small classes, including the possibility of less births during the economic downturn and other hypotheses.
Bingham also wrote that Colorado has the fifth highest rate of in-migration for adults 25 to 44 years old, up from 10th a decade ago, with the leading reason for attracting young adults being quality of life, “a factor that the SSSD community has in abundance.”
Meeks said statewide enrollment continues to go up as families with young children move from other areas to Colorado, something also happening here in Steamboat.
“What we’re seeing across the state, birth rates are down, but the Colorado population continues to grow, which is similar to what we’re seeing,” he said.
Meeks also said that kindergarten is not a legal requirement and parents have other options rather than attending the district, another factor that could affect this kindergarten class size.
For the Hayden School District, Oct. 1 enrollment was up slightly from last spring but down from last October’s count.
The district counted 369 students in grades K-12, up from 366 last May but down from 385 counted Oct. 1, 2014.
Hayden Superintendent Phil Kaspar said enrollment is expected to bump up next year, after an unusually small senior class graduates.
“I guess the encouraging thing is we have a really low class, our senior class,” Kaspar said. “That one has just about worked its way through the system, so we anticipate a 12- to 15-student rise in our next year’s count because of that.”
Oct. 1 enrollment numbers for the South Routt School District showed that enrollment has declined over last year, from 367 K-12 students last October to 328 on Oct. 1.
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