Preliminary enrollment counts have given East Grand School District officials a good idea of the number of students they're dealing with for the 2012-13 school year.
Official counts, however, won't be in until Nov. 1. This is because the amount of funding for each student that the district can receive has not yet been officially decided by the Colorado Department of Education.
"We can count the bodies," said Superintendent Nancy Karas, referring to the physical number of students in school, "but what we can't count is how much [funding] to the exact amount."
According to the information already gathered, the estimated budget comes very close to reality.
"We're in the ballpark. We know we're really close,"
This year the district enrollment declined by 28 students from 2011, to a total of 1,245. This decline is not unexpected, and a general declining trend has continued over the past several years. Mostly this is attributed to economic difficulties and families leaving Grand County.
"Right when the recession hit, that's when we saw our largest loss of students," Karas said.
When state funding is distributed based on student enrollment, the district is allowed additional funds due to the average number of students calculated during a five-year period. This year the district will receive funding for an extra 81 students. Most of this is due to the total funded pupil count from 2009, which at 1,349 is higher than any of the subsequent years.
Next year, however, the average will be taken starting from 2010. If enrollment stays the same as it is now, it is estimated that the district will lose funding for about 40 students, a significant amount of money.
Indian Peaks Charter School has shown the largest decrease in students this year, dropping by 20 to 33 students. Principal Polly Gallagher explains that the economic downturn affected them greatly.
"We had a significant portion of our population move out of county for job-related items," Gallagher said. Others went on from 8th grade to high school.
The effect on their budget is noticeable. The Indian Peaks board has been meeting in order to formulate a plan.
"Fortunately, through careful fiscal management, we were able to set aside money in past years," said Gallagher. "We do tend to have the cycle of ups and downs in our population. This is something that happens."
As a charter school, Indian Peaks is restricted to a maximum number of 15 students per grade level, but a minimum number of students has not been officially established.