Steady student enrollment in Aspen School District
Aspen School District enrollment, 2016-17 academic year
Aspen High School: 565
Aspen Middle School: 449
Aspen Elementary School: 520
Aspen Community School: 135
*Note: These numbers do not include The Cottage Preschool.
Source: Kate Fuentes, Aspen School District Chief Financial Officer
The freshman class at Aspen High School is one of the largest — if not the largest — classes in the Aspen School District’s history, Chief Financial Officer Kate Fuentes said Friday.
At 154 students, the freshman class well exceeds the number of students in the sophomore, junior and senior grades, which average about 130 students per class.
Approximately 1,730 students in are enrolled in the Aspen School District, according to Fuentes, dispersed between elementary, middle and high schools, Aspen Community School and The Cottage Preschool.
Overall, the school district’s enrollment numbers “have held relatively steady” over the past five or six years, Fuentes said, with the exception of five to 10 students.
In neighboring mountain counties like Routt and Eagle, some school districts have reported record enrollment between this year and last.
While the Aspen School District isn’t feeling a crunch right now, Superintendent John Maloy said Friday that one of the district’s most significant jumps in student enrollment happened in 2008 at the start of the economic recession.
Maloy said the Aspen School District was “taken aback” upon learning that 75 new families had enrolled in the school district at that time.
During the recession, approximately 40 families who were in the Aspen School District moved away from the area, Maloy said, so the school district welcomed a net total of about 35 new families.
Still, this is a substantial jump, Fuentes said, and can be difficult to accommodate as the state continues to inadequately fund its K-12 schools on a per-pupil basis.
One explanation as to why a school district that’s located in an area with as high a cost of living as Aspen would experience a flux in students during an economic recession, Fuentes said, has to do with Aspen Country Day School.
Fuentes said a number of families whose children might have attended boarding school after eighth grade made the decision to instead enroll their kids in the local public schools.
During an average academic year, she estimated that about half of Aspen Country Day’s eighth-grade class enrolls in the Aspen School District for high school.
Aside from the Country Day School factor, Fuentes said it’s tough to determine how and why school district enrollments fluctuate within certain areas.
“The things that drive people to move here at whatever time may be different than the things that are driving families to move to other places in the state,” Fuentes said. “It’s hard to put a finger on exactly which part of the Colorado economy is drawing people.”
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Kevin Warner started his career with the U.S. Forest Service as a wilderness ranger in 2001. Now he’s taking over the key position as Aspen-Sopris District Ranger.