School enrollment decline explained



CREEDE- During the midmonth meeting for the Mineral County Commissioners Tuesday, Oct. 22, the board listened to a presentation from Creede Board of Education President Damon Gibbons that referenced a question raised by commissioners in a previous meeting about school enrollment numbers.
Gibbons thanked the commissioners for allowing him to come and speak with them, then handed out a report that highlighted data collected through BOCES showing student numbers throughout the Valley. “First thing, I wanted to address a question that was posed by the board that was something along the lines of what are we going to do about the students that the school has lost, and that question caused me to do some thinking. Fortunately, the superintendent was recently at a conference for the San Luis Valley Superintendents where he was given this data which helped provide some perspective to answer that question,” said Gibbons.
The data provided by Gibbons is a compilation from the last 19 years of student numbers in Valley schools and shows the fluctuation of increase and decrease over a two-decade period. “The one thing that you can see is a huge decrease in enrollment across the Valley since about 2011. The bottom of the chart shows totals for all school districts and in the year 2000 it shows a total enrollment of 9,225 compared to Valley-wide enrollment in 2019 which is 7,712.”
Gibbons pointed out that there were three other school districts in the Valley that had higher enrollment decrease percentages than the Creede School District. “There are other school districts that have higher negative enrollment percentages than us, but we are on that end of the curve. The other thing I want you to understand is the enrollment plateaus and then ever so slightly begins to recover in 2011 and 2012. There was a 16 percent increase Valley-wide in enrollment numbers.”
The data shows that the Creede School District enrollment hit an all-time low in 2011 but has since increased 19 percent. “Bottom line, there has been a huge downward trend over the last few years but it’s beginning to recover the last two or three years.”
Gibbons explained that this year current enrollment is at 90 students compared to last year which was 95. “The enrollment count does reflect the preschool students. We have lost a couple of students recently and we have gained some students recently. It is always in flux.”
By the end of the presentation, Gibbons stated that they are constantly working to recruit new students and are actively working to bring some students back that have left for various reasons. One of the draws the school is focusing on is their Career and Technical Education program that is offering a wide range of classes for students wanting to learn about technical fields of study.
Gibbons ended by inviting commissioners to come and present during their board of education meetings to help share data about the increase in economic growth and some of the things that the county is working on to help bring people to the area which in turn would increase student enrollment numbers.
“We really appreciate the conversations that are taking place and would like for the commissioners to continue and reciprocate the sharing of data for the betterment of our community,” finished Gibbons. Commissioners agreed to attend future board of education meetings to continue to strengthen the communications between the county and the school.

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