It’s a slam dunk that when the bells ring to mark the first day of school each year, the Windsor-Severance Re-4 School District will break another enrollment record.
Count this year as another record-breaker.
Almost 4,800 students (4,795) walked through the front doors of the schools in the district on Tuesday. That number is the most ever in the Re-4 district.
This year’s first-day count was a 4.65 percent (213 more students) increase over last year’s total of 4,582 students when the district did the enrollment count on Oct. 1, 2011, which determines how much funding the district will receive from the state.
To give some perspective on how the district has grown in size over the last two decades, the 4,800 students in the district is similar to what the population was in the town of Windsor about 20 years ago.
When assistant superintendent Stephanie Watson graduated from Windsor High School in 1986, the high school was at around 400 students and her graduating class was 98. When she was hired on with the school district 20 years ago, the district had an enrollment of 1,800 students.
The high school’s current enrollment is at 1,200 students with 71 more students than last year for a 6.29 percent increase.
“It’s good to see growth. It definitely helps us out as far as helping to maintain programs in light of other districts who are declining in enrollment on top of budget cuts,” said Watson, who added that the first-day enrollment numbers are not final because the district is still verifying enrollment numbers.
The first-day enrollment total is under last year’s figure of 5.61 percent by about 1 percentage point.
“It’s probably a little under, but it’s also right in line with our five-year and 10-year average growth ranges,” Watson said. “It’s about what we were anticipating. Growth of over 200 kids in a year is still a lot of new kids.”
Severance Middle School (445 students) had the highest percentage increase (10.7 percent) over last year’s number of 402 students. Principal Jay Tapia said the enrollment breakdown is almost perfect with about 150 kids in each of the three grades.
“It’s not like I have a big glut at one grade level. This is ideal where I’m at now. Right now, we’re at about 150 kids in each grade level, and to me this is the perfect number,” Tapia said. “It just makes everything work real well with three lunches. It flows really well in being able to offer some additional elective classes.”
Severance Middle School is starting its fourth year, and the enrollment in the first year was about 260. Its capacity is 600. Tapia said he’s still getting students from Greeley.
“There is part of it that is in our boundaries, and we draw a lot that are right by that area that open enroll and come here,” he said.
Tapia said the growing enrollment enables him to add a few more staff members and add different types of classes.
“The kids challenge each other and push each other,” Tapia said. “To me, it offers more academic competition. It makes everybody better. The best part in our district is that I think there’s growth in a lot of the schools here. I think that’s just a reflection on the district as a whole, not just Severance. We’ve been fortunate because we have room to take more kids.”
Grandview Elementary School principal Dave Grubbs, whose school (590 students) saw a 3.15 percent increase with 18 more students than last year, said it’s hard to predict how many kids are going to enroll each year.
“It’s always an interesting challenge predicting how big we’re going to be,” Grubbs said. “This is my seventh year here, and in the seven years that I’ve been here we have always added 50 or more new families. We sent on 80-plus fifth-graders last year into the middle schools, and our kindergartners coming in are around 90. That trade-off of moving fifth-graders on and bringing kindergartners up is just about a wash, but then every year we add 50-plus families. When you say we’ve grown by 18, it gives you the impression that it’s not very many when you’re looking at bottom-line numbers. The reality is that some of those families that were at Grandview in the spring have moved away over the summer.”
Other enrollment increases in the district from last year were: Tozer Primary School with 19 more students (343 students) for a 5.86 percent increase; Mountain View Elementary with 16 more students (269 students) for a 6.32 percent increase; Range View Elementary in Severance with 35 more students (560 students) for a 6.67 percent increase and Windsor Middle School with 21 more students (591 students) for a 3.68 percent increase.
Skyview Elementary dropped six students (360 students) for a minus-1.64 percent decrease, and Windsor Charter Academy dropped four students (437 students) for a 0.91 percent decrease.