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State P-12 enrollment moves up at usual rate

Colorado public school enrollment grew 1.4 percent in 2014 to 889,006 students, the Department of Education reported Thursday.

The percentage growth was slightly below both 2013’s 1.6 percent and the 20-year average rate of 1.7 percent. The number includes students enrolled in preschool through 12th grade.

The new figure is based on enrollment counts conducted statewide in a window around last Oct. 1 and will be the official number for the current 2014-15 school year. Despite recurring discussions about changing the state student counting method, the single Oct. 1 count remains the way Colorado calculates enrollment.

The annual counts are closely watched because enrollment is a key factor in district funding.

The state added 12,007 students from 2013 to last fall, a number equivalent to the size of the Westminster district. (See this CDE chart for enrollment by district, listed from highest to lowest.) Nearly half that growth, 5,564, came in districts classified as urban or suburban.

Denver Public Schools, with 88,839 students, remains the largest district. DPS grew by 2,796 students, a 3.3 percent gain. Only the state Charter School Institute had a larger gain, 3,573 students. (That was because the institute added schools.)

The other largest districts are a familiar list – Jefferson County (86,547), Douglas County (66,702), Cherry Creek (54,499), Aurora (41,729) and Adams 12-Five Star (38,701).

Some 83 districts lost enrollment, by a total of 6,115 students. Adams 12 lost 3,529 students (8.3 percent) because the Colorado Virtual Academy switched to the Byers district as its authorizer. Enrollment in a handful of districts fluctuates every year because of such charter school moves.

Here are some other key statistics from the latest enrollment report. The 2013 figures are in parentheses.

  • At-risk students – 41.6 percent of state enrollment (41.9 percent)
  • White students – 54.5 percent (55 percent)
  • Hispanic students – 33.1 percent (32.8 percent)
  • Black students – 4.7 percent (4.7 percent)

The enrollment count also reported 126,840 students classified as English language learners for 2014-15 and 89,602 special education students. The comparable figures for 2013-14 were 126,750 and 88,190.

Enrollment in online schools increased to 17,060 students compared to 16,215 in 2013-14.

The department slices and dices enrollment data in a wide variety of ways and breaks it down by district, school and grade. See this CDE page for links to all the new enrollment reports.