District 11 tops state in enrollment decline

CAROL MCGRAW Updated: January 14, 2013 at 12:00 am • Published: January 14, 2013

Two school districts in the Pikes Peak region are among the 15 largest in the state, according to the Colorado Department of Education report on the 2012 fall student count released Monday.

Colorado Springs School District 11, which has 28,993 students is the largest in the Pikes Peak Region and 9th largest in the state.  But it also has the distinction of losing 516 students, the largest enrollment decline in the state, officials noted.

Academy School District 20, the state’s 11th largest district with 23,973 students, has grown by 316 over the last school year.

Falcon School District 49, a suburban area east of Colorado Springs had the most new students among El Paso County districts. Enrollment is 15,478, an increase of 415.

The statewide student count was  863,561 students for an increase of 1.1 percent.

The count is particularly important because the state uses the numbers to compute district funding. However, the complicated formula is designed so that there is equity of funding despite the size of the district. The report is known as the October count because that is when schools report. It takes weeks for state officials to reconcile the figures.

The largest district in the state is Jeffco Public Schools at 85,508 students, followed by Denver Public Schools, 83,377, and Douglas County Schools, 64,657. Denver had the largest gain, in the state, adding 2,487 students to the roster. Pueblo City Schools are in 14th place with 17,692 students.

D-11 has for years had the largest student population  in  El Paso County. However, the demographics  in the central part of the city where it is located, have been changing.  It is an area of mostly aging homes, where 80 percent of residents do not have children in school, D-11 officials said.

Three  years ago, faced with  declines, D-11 shuttered eight elementary schools and one middle school.

It is now grappling with more  changes. There are numerous administration recommendations to deal with the declining elrollment, which have in the past  few weeks been presented to the community. One recommendation would close Wasson High School and two elementary schools. The school board is expected make a decision Feb. 6.

“The numbers are validation of why we are undergoing the utilization study process,” said Devra Ashby, D-11 spokeswoman. “We are addressing the trend of continued enrollment and budget declines.”

Ashby said that the study’s purpose is to “reinvent the school district” with new programs to be competitive and attract students.

Academy School District 20 is located north of D-11 in an area of upscale larger homes. It is the 11th largest district in the state, and has been part of the statewide suburban growth spurt over the years.

“We attribute our growth to the quality and variety of programs offered in our schools,” Mark Hatchell, superintendentof Academy District 20 said. “We are also seeing the beginning of a rebound in residential construction and we look forward to welcoming additional families.”


Contact Carol McGraw: 636-0371 Twitter @mcgrawatgazette Facebook Carol McGraw

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