ASPEN - A recent crackdown on students enrolling in the Aspen public schools with falsified residency documents appears to have slowed the trend.
"The data shows that fewer individuals are falsifying documents or trying some other means of getting into our schools," said Aspen Superintendent John Maloy. "I think it's because people are aware that we are holding steadfast to the documentation requirements and that we are being consistent across the schools."
According to data collected from principals at Aspen Elementary, Aspen Middle and Aspen High schools, only
two students had been disenrolled for falsifying documents as of last week; both students were at the elementary school level.
Seven other students - four at Aspen Elementary School and three at the high school level - remain under investigation due to a question of acceptable documents and/or a verifiable address within the school district boundaries. Last spring, district officials confirmed that at least a dozen students enrolled - or attempted to enroll - using falsified documents.
"We will continue to be diligent with regard to issues of residency," Maloy said, noting that only two new out-of-district students were accepted for the 2012-13 school year, both of whom are in kindergarten and are siblings of other previously enrolled downvalley students. "I do believe we have made great progress since then, however."
But enrollment issues remain a concern for the district, as the in-district population continues to grow. At the next Aspen Board of Education meeting, scheduled for Monday, Maloy will present the school board with facts and figures surrounding enrollment.
Currently, there are 561 students enrolled at Aspen High, 467 students at the middle school and 529 at the elementary school; 18 percent of the district's total population is composed of legitimate out-of-district students. Maloy said these numbers are probably at the upper end of what the district can handle.
"It's a double-edge sword because we have schools that people want to get in, but that creates a downside because we have a limited number of space," Maloy said. "And from what we've seen this year, with increased enrollment from just in-district students, issues surrounding enrollment is a conversation we need to have."
Maloy said rollbacks - or asking out-of-district students to leave the schools - are not being considered. But "we do need to look at the long-term, bigger picture," he said.
"Rollbacks are not in anyone's favor," he said. "But we need to talk about what our capacity is, what the optimal learning environment is.
"We need to make a long-range plan."