Aurora Public Schools rebounds from pandemic enrollment dip; neighboring Cherry Creek does not


AURORA | Despite an overall declining enrollment trend, student numbers are rebounding in Aurora Public Schools following a pandemic slump. In neighboring Cherry Creek Schools, the opposite is true, according to new data.

The Colorado Department of Education released statewide enrollment figures for the 2021-2022 school year Wednesday. The numbers are based on the Student October Count, an annual pupil count that every school conducts each fall.

Overall, enrollment increased slightly statewide from the previous year with 886,517 students enrolled in preschool through 12th grade, an increase of 3,318 from fall 2020, according to a news release from the department. 

That’s still significantly below Colorado’s 2019 enrollment of 913,223 students, an all-time high.

According to the report, 38,451 students are enrolled in Aurora Public Schools this year, 544 more than in the previous school year, when enrollment fell by more than 2,000 students. In the past five years enrollment has shrunk by over 3,000 — an 8% decrease.

In Cherry Creek, 53,558 students are enrolled this school year, which is 609 fewer than the previous year, according to October count data. Slightly over 1,000 students have left the district over the past five years, a 2.29% decrease.

The bulk of the increase is due to larger preschool and kindergarten classes, something educators were prepared for as many families chose to hold their youngest children back a grade during the pandemic.

“We’ve all been calling it the redshirt year,” APS Superintendent Rico Munn told the Sentinel last spring as the district was preparing for the possibility of a large kindergarten class come fall.

Despite the influx of young students, Cherry Creek is far from the only district that did not reverse its pandemic decline.

When schools shut down, many students stopped engaging and school districts struggled to find them. Districts are spending considerable time and effort on tracking down students who stopped coming to school.

Despite that work, fewer than 600 schools in the state increased enrollment this school year from their fall 2019 totals. More than twice as many schools remain below those levels.

Enrollment had been declining in most metro area school districts even before the pandemic. The Sheridan, Littleton and Jeffco school districts posted the largest percentage drops in the number of students among metro area districts. Other districts with large drops in enrollment included Cheyenne Mountain 12 in Colorado Springs and the Las Animas district in southern Colorado.

The districts with the largest increases in enrollment included the Harrison school district in El Paso County and the 27J district based in Brighton.

Some of the decline is related to long-term demographic trends, and some is related to families making different educational choices.

Chalkbeat Colorado contributed to this report


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4 months ago

This is not breaking news. Parents that had serious concerns in the past 40 years between the quality Aurora Public School produces versus the Cherry Creek system knows evident difference is clear. The Denver Public School organization puts out the same unexceptional finish product APS has been busy cranking out. These CCPS parents many of which have the means also recognize the difference. They do feel strongly, they make the commitment to move into the CCPS district knowing the cost of education will be more and willing to support that choice.
Further, local referenda Colorado law allows local school districts to ask voters to approve additional funding through local tax increases referred to as mill levy overrides. Cherry Creek School District voters have approved such overrides. Aurora residents either don’t put or can’t put extra money into the scholastic outcome.
The district also receives revenue from the Specific Ownership Tax, investment income, tuition, and miscellaneous fees including rent for the use of district facilities.
In short, the culture of Cherry Cheek more affluent, insist on, and willing to pay. They are investing in their kid’s future. They refuse to tolerate some rouge gangsters in class streaming through the school halls. They will take issue as they are in business of providing a good education, not what’s convenient. Amazingly, it’s a different mentality of expectations.