Local district’s enrollment numbers rise to all-time high | SummitDaily.com

Local district’s enrollment numbers rise to all-time high

The Summit School District experienced record growth this school year after initially anticipating an increase of no more than one-half of 1 percent. Instead, its staring down an approximately 5-percent upswing across the county.

For the fourth consecutive year, enrollment within the Summit School District is on the rise — now to an all-time high.

The latest numbers from October point to a similar trajectory of growth dating back to 2012-13, which was the last time the district experienced relatively flat expansion. Since then, the totals have only continued to climb to new records.

"It is a positive sign in the community," Julie McCluskie, director of communications for the district, said of the upswing. "So many moving into the middle- and high-school levels, it means families are coming here. We did not anticipate an increase, so this is significant, and it's exciting because it could mean additional funding."

Based on census data and past numbers within the district, Summit was expecting an increase of about 17 total students for the 2015-16 school year, or approximately ½ of 1 percent. That is relatively level growth. Instead, it saw nearly a 5-percent surge, with 164 students joining the district at various grade levels, up to a grand total 3,509 students across its nine schools.

While there is no definite explanation for these new increases, McCluskie points to the strength of the local economy as being a contributing factor.

"We do see more families come into the community when the resorts are doing well, the businesses are doing well," she said. "There's more relocation up to Summit County to help fill the economic needs of our employers."

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Practically every school in the district realized some amount of enrollment growth. The two exceptions were Breckenridge Elementary and Snowy Peaks High School. The former had anticipated 235 students and hit that exact total, while the latter was down two students to 39 after a forecasted sum of 41.

Meanwhile, those schools with the biggest jumps were Summit Middle School, adding 55 students, or 7.4 percent of its total population, followed by Silverthorne (up 29), Dillon Valley (up 22) and Frisco (up 17) elementaries. In total, the district's six elementaries witnessed an increase of 87 students overall, or a 4.6-percent buildup over projections.

Last year, the district saw an increase as well, but just 1.6-percent over projections, to a total of 3,341 students. That came on the heels of another tremendous influx between the 2012-13 and 2013-14 school years, of 4.2-percent growth.

This notable increase means that, as McCluskie noted, the district will also most likely see a widening of total per-pupil operating revenue, PPOR for short, or the amount of money allocated by the state for each student within the district. Current figures provide a little more than $7,500 per student registered in the district, though kindergarteners and part-time students only count for half-funding each. With the addition of the 164 students though, it could mean a bit more than an estimated $800,000 to supplement the district's 2015-16 budget, up to just under $25 million.

From a socioeconomic standpoint, about 38 percent of the district qualifies for free or reduced-cost lunch, a factor based on a family's annual income. That's the highest on record as well, up from about 35 percent the year prior. The largest school populations utilizing the program reside at Silverthorne and Dillon Valley elementaries, almost 70 and 56 percent, respectively.

"That population in particular has been growing," said McCluskie. "It has been one of fastest growing demographics."

As for the racial makeup of the overall Summit student body, it has remained stable the last few years. The numbers are virtually identical to those of the 2014-15 school year: 61 percent identifying as white, about 34 percent Hispanic and a little more than 5 percent representing other races and ethnicities.

About 25 percent of the overall student body is English-language learners. That ranges from full-English proficiency to non-English proficiency, with about 14 percent representing limited understanding of the language.