Declining enrollment erodes funding in District 60 - KOAA.com | Continuous News | Colorado Springs and Pueblo

Declining enrollment erodes funding in District 60

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Demographics are playing a key role in District 60's financial struggles. Enrollment in the district has dropped 6 percent since the 2010 Census, even though the Census Bureau reports the population of Pueblo County grew 4.6 percent in that same period.

In the last four school years alone, enrollment has fallen by nearly 1,000 students. Chief Financial Officer David Horner expects enrollment to continue to slide in the 2018-2019 school year by a projected 340 students. Assuming state per-pupil funding will be approximately $8,300 next year, that amounts to a loss of $2.8 million.

The declining enrollment is no surprise to realtor Dave Anderson.

"Not really, because people coming in or living here have options," he said.

Anderson is vice chair of the Pueblo Association of Realtors and has seen hundreds of move to Pueblo West over the years. Many buyers tell him, it's the schools.

"This agent that I just mentioned to you, that's what she saw," Anderson said of a recent home purchase. "She talked to people that worked within the district and so she picked District 70 for her kids."

District 60's own numbers back up Anderson's observations. Demographer Hazel Reinhardt made a presentation to the school board in December about enrollment projections over the next decade.

"In ten years, District 60 enrollment with charters is projected to range from 13,898 to 14,375 compared to the 2017-18 enrollment of 16,059," Reinhardt wrote in the executive summary of her report.  That amounts to a net decrease of 10.5 to 13.5 percent of the district's total enrollment.

In a slide presented to the board, Reinhardt calculated that some 3,991 students who live in D-60's boundaries opted out during the 2016-2017 open enrollment window and instead chose to attend a charter school or School District 70.

As News 5 has reported, some schools in D-60 struggle to meet state performance standards. Anderson says parents who are moving to Pueblo research school performance when they decide where to live.

"People outside do research our community," Anderson said. "PEDCO knows that. They've seen that so much. That's why they've been able to get companies to come in. They have researchers and they do the work of what's good for us."

School choice is a two-way street. In fact, 470 students who live within District 70's boundaries opted to attend school in District 60 this year. But when compared to the 1,254 who left D-60 for D-70, it still leaves an enrollment deficit.

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