Steamboat Springs Middle School Assistant Principal Jerry Buelter visits with seventh-graders in a crowded lunchroom Thursday afternoon.

Photo by Matt Stensland

Steamboat Springs Middle School Assistant Principal Jerry Buelter visits with seventh-graders in a crowded lunchroom Thursday afternoon.

Routt County enrollment goes up

All three local school districts have more students this year than before

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Steamboat Springs Middle School students head toward class Thursday afternoon after lunch.

— Enrollment in all three local school districts is up a total of about 50 funded students in the 2008-09 school year, which will bring an expected increase in state funding of about $375,000 split between the Steamboat Springs, Hayden and South Routt school districts.

The increases came primarily through larger preschool and kindergarten classes in each of the three districts.

Hayden School District reached a total count of 428 funded students this year, an increase from last year's count of 420. South Routt School District increased to about 400, up from 388.5 last year. In Steamboat Springs, the number increased to 2,077, from 2,045.5 in 2007-08.

The funded count of each school is computed by a formula from the state. Kindergarten students, part-time students and preschool students are not fully funded, and the actual number of students in each of the districts is slightly higher.

Districts throughout Colorado are funded on a per-pupil basis, but each district receives a different amount per student determined by the overall district size, its urban or rural location and other factors.

Last year, South Routt, the smallest of the three districts, received the most funding per pupil in Routt County: $8,598. Hayden received $8,303.24, while Steamboat received $6,670 per pupil.

Hayden School District Business Manager Jnl Linsacum said Hayden's enrollment this year is close to expectations. The district grew by eight students and budgeted for 10, she said.

Although that means the district will have about $16,000 less than expected, she said the district's income from mineral rights - $297,0000 last year - easily will cover the difference. Mineral rights are not accounted for in the state determination of how much districts should receive per pupil.

The increases in Hayden enrollment primarily were at the elementary and preschool levels, Linsacum said. This year, there are 220 elementary students in preschool through fifth grade.

South Routt School District Business Manager Dina Murray said the South Routt district also saw an increase in the younger grades, with kindergarten growing the most.

South Routt determines its funded student count through a five-year average, giving the school 399.9 funded students. District officials predicted 395 funded students, but Murray said she was not surprised by the slightly higher number.

"In the 10 years I've been here, there's been so much development in Stagecoach and Oak Creek and outside our town, we thought surely we'd see this any day now with the numbers going up," she said.

The Steamboat district first reported a discrepancy between the number of students counted by a computer-based enrollment system and the manual headcounts provided by the school. The computer program initially tallied 2,115 students, while the manual count revealed 2,007. On Friday, Superintendent Shalee Cunningham said the district was going to budget based on 2,007 students, though it was not clear what number would be submitted to the state. District officials previously have said the final number likely will be between those figures.

Districts have until Nov. 10 to submit student counts to the state for funding. All counts were taken in the first week of October.

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