Colorado schools keep growing, latest enrollment figures show

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AURORA | Student enrollment in Colorado schools is up so far in the 2015-16 school year, though there are fewer new students than in years past, according to a press release sent Thursday from the Colorado Department of Education.

Keshon White waits in the halls during a passing period for friends on Monday April 06, 2015 at Aurora Central High School. Photo by Gabriel Christus/Aurora SentinelThe statewide preschool through 12th-grade pupil count currently sits at 899,112 public school students, which is an increase of 10,106 over the previous year. That change is a bump of 1.1 percent, and lower than the 1.4-percent growth rate in the 2014-15 school year. The state’s average rate of growth for the past 20 years also sits at 1.4 percent.

Aurora’s two presiding public education institutions — Cherry Creek Schools District and Aurora Public Schools — clocked in as the fourth- and fifth-largest districts in the state, respectively. Cherry Creek currently boasts an enrollment of 54,695 students, and APS hosts 42,249 students. Douglas County School District, Jeffco Public Schools and Denver Public Schools were the three Colorado districts with higher enrollments than the two primary districts in Aurora. DPS once again laid claim to the highest enrollment in the state with slightly more than 90,000 students.

The state’s 15 largest school districts, the bulk of which are located along the Front Range, comprise 68 percent of the state’s total public school enrollment.

The rural eastern Colorado town of Byers, which is located some 30 miles east of Aurora, boasted the largest proportional enrollment increase in 2015, with a surge of 41.7 percent, or 893 students. The bulk of the increase in Byers comes at the hands of online students, which is a demographic that has seen a 53 percent increase in the town since 2014. Statewide, online enrollment grew 9.4 percent in 2015, with 18,664 students currently registered in public online education. Online enrollment in Colorado has shot up 22 percent since 2010.

DPS added the highest overall number of new students last year, with the addition of 1,396 students. The Charter School Institute, which is a non-district charter school authorizer that oversees 35 charter schools across the state, posted the second-highest student gains last year with an increase of 1,027 students. That’s a 7.3 increase over the year before.