Preliminary data shows slight drop in enrollment for Summit School District, though final numbers have yet to be released
K-12 numbers down by half a percentage point from what was expected; officials don’t expect any major impacts on funding, budgeting
Unofficial Summit School District enrollment data for the 2023-24 school year shows a slight decrease from what was projected, though final numbers won’t be known until October.
According to Chief Financial Officer Kara Drake, who presented the findings during a Summit Board of Education meeting on Thursday, Sept. 21, K-12 enrollment was estimated to be 3,445 this school year. Data shows enrollment at 3,428 as of the week of Sept. 11 — a 0.5% decrease.
Only three schools — Frisco, Silverthorne and Summit Cove elementary — saw enrollment increases. Middle and high school numbers are projected to decline slightly in the coming years as larger cohorts graduate and smaller classes come in, Drake said.
“We knew we had some larger classes at the elementary level that would be coming through the middle school and high school. So that bubble has made its way through the middle school,” she said.
Preschool enrollment was also down from what was projected. District officials estimated 151 students for the 2023-24 school year with the most recent count showing an enrollment of 143, just over a 5% decrease.
Board members asked how, if at all, the decline may impact district funding, which is allocated on a per-pupil basis.
“If I was a parent and a community member, and I am both,” said board member Julie Shapiro, “My questions would just be, ‘Is anything that we’re looking with this little bit of potential downtick going to affect our classroom staffing or anything going forward?'”
Drake said enrollment decline at this level is not expected to impact district operations, adding a 5% reduction or increase is “still pretty manageable.” The most drastic action that could be taken would be hiring freezes but no staff cuts, Drake said.
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Because of flexibility in the state’s funding model, the roughly 5% decrease in preschoolers isn’t likely to have a dramatic effect. That’s because, according to Drake, the state allows a district to use either their current year’s enrollment or the average of the past two, three or four years — whichever is greatest — to determine funding.
“With those preschool students being counted in previous years, the averaging is helping us out quite a bit this year and I think that will help us soften our blow quite a bit,” Drake said.
Fluctuating enrollment is due to a number of factors, with most districts in Colorado experiencing a decline in recent years — though the Summit district has bucked this trend for the past two school years.
“We had several years that we were seeing fairly high growth from 2014 to 2018. We of course saw the decline due to COVID, we bounced back in 2022 and then we saw some slight growth last year,” Drake said. “We have seen over the last several years birth rates declining, and so that has resulted in smaller kindergarten class sizes.”
“We’re not declining (at) a fast enough rate to need to do anything drastic,” she added. “We’re just projected to be relatively stable.”
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