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Summit School District’s October enrollment grew more than predicted

2021 graduation rate slightly down but still higher than state average

Summit High School is pictured March 18, 2021.
Jason Connolly/For the Summit Daily

Summit School District’s enrollment is growing despite Colorado seeing opposite trends, while the district’s graduation rates are lower than they were pre-pandemic, they’re still higher than the state average.

Chief Financial Officer Kara Drake presented the school board with the latest information on student enrollment as of October 2021, as well as its graduation and completion statistics from the last school year, at the Jan. 27 board meeting.

Graduation

In 2021, Summit School District’s graduation rate — which only includes students who graduated in four years — was just about 90%. Drake said that is 8% higher than the state of Colorado’s but 0.7% lower than 2020’s rate.



Drake said completion rates include not only the students who graduated but also those who received another type of designation for completing high school, like a high school equivalency diploma. Summit’s 2021 completion rate is about 92%, which is 8.3% higher than the state’s and 1.1% lower than the previous year.

The district’s dropout rates have consistently been lower than the state’s. Last year, Summit’s dropout rate was about 0.5%, which is 1.3% lower than the state’s rate and consistent with the previous years in Summit.



Board Vice President Consuelo Redhorse said that while it’s a celebration that the school district typically does better than the state overall, 1 in 10 students not graduating in four years is still concerning. Summit High School Principal Tim Ridder said the elementary and secondary school emergency relief funds they got because of the pandemic have helped to bring in more programs to support students, including a new credit recovery program.

“We’ve got a lot of pillows around the kids that we’re hoping keeps them on time,” Ridder said.

Superintendent Roy Crawford noted, however, that of the 10% of students who didn’t graduate in 2021, 15 students are back to finish high school in their fifth year. He said supporting these students is one of the most important ways to improve the school’s graduation rates.

Snowy Peaks Principal Jim Smith said the pandemic put a strain on many students over the past few years, and Snowy Peaks often attracts students who might be behind schedule or off track for one reason or another. He said the key is to re-engage these students and put in the right systems of support.

“How do we build back academic self confidence, and how do we keep kids moving and encouraging them?” Smith said. “… If they try hard, regardless of their past, they’re going to feel successful. All of those things come into play whenever you’re cheering on a kiddo who just watched a lot of his classmates walk across the stage, and he sticks it out for that fifth year.”

Board Secretary Johanna Kugler noted that if the funding from the pandemic has been a big piece to rely on, the district needs to start looking for additional solutions since that funding is temporary. Drake said the district has saved some of this funding since it received so much, but that in next year’s budgeting process, they will need to look at which programs previously funded by the emergency relief funds will need to stay in place going forward and how to sustain them.

Enrollment

Drake also explained the details of the October 2021 student enrollment report, comparing the number of students attending the district, as well as the per pupil funding the district has. She said the district’s enrollment is up about 2.1% what the district projected and budgeted for.

There are a total of 1,671 students between the six district elementary schools. Across the middle school, Snowy Peaks and the high school, there are 1,949 secondary students enrolled, with a grand total of 3,620 students districtwide. This is about 75 students more than the district projected. Looking at the whole state, though, Drake said Summit is somewhat an anomaly in that most enrollment numbers have been dropping.


Of this total, 56% of the students this school year are Caucasian, about 39% are Hispanic, and about 5% are another race. About 8% of the student population is in the district’s gifted and talented programs, about 11% are in special education, 0.2% of students are homeless, and about 7% are immigrants.

Drake said the district typically has around 35% of its students registered to receive either free or reduced lunch, but that number has dropped down to 26.9%, with meals now being provided to all students for free throughout the pandemic. She said this was a trend across the state.

The district also has 948 students who learned English as their second language, or about 26% of the student population. Of those, just under 10% of Summit students are not proficient in English, 12% have limited English proficiency, and 4% have full English proficiency.

Summit School District also accepts students from outside of the county, with 134, or about 4%, of students coming from other areas. The district also has 37 home-schooled students: 15 in elementary, 16 in middle school and six in high school.


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