Declining enrollment is a problem for school districts across the nation. But it still doesn’t make life any easier for Weld Re-8 School District Superintendent Alan Kaylor.
Enrollment in the district is down 220 students from a year ago. Add to that the upcoming student enrollment count (Thursday, Oct. 1) and its impact on per-pupil funding, and it’s easy to see why Kaylor is concerned.
“Enrollment across the state has taken a huge hit,” Kaylor told the board during a virtual meeting Sept. 24. “I am concerned. I’ll have a little better idea around Oct. 7. It takes a full month to get the final numbers.”
Gov. Jared Polis announced a series of furloughs for state employees last week. How many forced days off depends on an employee’s salary. Kaylor told the board that could save as much as 2 percent of spared cuts.
“The economic outlook is improving, but the crisis is still severe,” Kaylor read from a report from the Colorado Association of School Executives. “The revenue is about $900 million higher than projected in June because of higher sales-tax revenue. But Colorado’s economy is nowhere out of the woods.”
Almost a third of the district’s students opted for online enrollment this semester because of COVID-19. Technology isn’t widely available in town. But Fort Lupton High School Principal John Biner said students who are bumped out of online learning often get back into the queue.
“Our staff know who is in which cohort,” Biner told the board. “They can look and see which group people belong in. We can support the ones without good internet connections by letting them use the district’s.”
Kaylor said a loss of 220 students could mean a drop of $9,158 in per-pupil revenue from the Legislature.
“We are using the state’s interest-free loan program to meet salaries in the district,” Kaylor said. “This is going to encourage a conversation so we can figure out how to fund education.”