Surging job market fuels boom in school enrollment
GRAND JUNCTION Mesa County Valley School District 51 is expected to add 600 new students per year for the next four years, according to a report presented to the Board of Education.That is equivalent to adding one new middle school to the district each year, district spokesman Jeff Kirtland said.The projection comes amid job growth and a boom in the energy industry on the Western Slope.Schools in Clifton, Fruita and Grand Junction, which make up 89 percent of the district’s 51 schools, face the greatest threat of overcrowding, according to the report compiled by Shannon Bingham of Western Demographics Inc., which presented the report to the Board of Education in December.In the past two years, student enrollment grew by 1,174 students. Several schools are at capacity or exceeding capacity.”We are seeing continued growth in all grade levels and primarily in elementary grades,” Kirtland said. “In the last two years, our first and second grades have been huge.”State labor data show the Grand Junction area added about 5,300 jobs between December 2005 and December 2006, increasing the area’s work force by 7.9 percent.
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