Enrollment on track in Aspen School District | AspenTimes.com

Enrollment on track in Aspen School District

ASPEN – Enrollment in the Aspen School District is holding steady for 2011-12, which means the amount of funds the district budgeted to receive from the state should be on track.

According to ASD chief financial officer Kate Fuentes, the district’s “October count” – when the state records the number of students actually attending the public schools for funding purposes – showed a total enrollment of 1,711 students. Schools included in the local count were Aspen Elementary, Middle and High schools, Aspen Community School, and certain students at the Cottage preschool (see chart).

“The revenues tied to the student count came in as we expected, and are in line with previous years,” said Fuentes, noting that the fact that the schools will receive the state funds they expected does not mean the budget crisis is over.

During a report to the Board of Education Monday night, Fuentes said district administrators originally expected approximately 30 more students to fill the seats and feared a loss of income when those kids did not show up. However, the districts “five-year rolling average” and an increase in “at-risk” students made up the difference.

The district also enrolled a few additional out-of-district students to fill the vacant seats, but administrators were cautious about “opening the doors to out of district students without a good reason.” The district generally keeps its out-of-district enrollment at about 20 percent.

“There is always uncertainty about how many more students the state will fund if we go above where they had us budgeted,” Fuentes explained. “So we were not going to fully open up our doors to out-of-district students without a good reason for bringing them in, such as being a younger sibling.”

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The Aspen schools must also anticipate a wave of “seasonal” students, or children of resort workers who attend local schools during the winter season only. While these students will not garner the district state funds because they were not included in the October count, space in the classroom must still be made for them.

“We can get hammered on that front,” said Fuentes. “If we get 20 more kids on Nov. 1, we have to serve them because they are in the district, but we do not get the money that comes from the state.”

jmcgovern@aspentimes.com