Tooele Transcript Bulletin – News in Tooele, Utah
image Rose Springs Elementary sixth-grade teacher Greg Robinson asks his class questions about pasteurization Thursday morning. Rose Springs Elementary is 18 percent over capacity.

September 20, 2012
School enrollment climbs by 2.7 percent

As of last Monday, enrollment in Tooele County School District is up by 369 students over last year — a 2.7 percent increase. This is the third consecutive year of growth for local schools.

“While we are currently at plus 369, things still might change as schools clean up their records by Oct. 1,” said Terry Linares, Tooele County School District superintendent.

Oct. 1 is the enrollment counting date used by the state to determine where to allocate funding.

The district budgeted for an additional 200 students this year. Further enrollment will mean additional funding, since the state gives the district $2,842 per “weighted” pupil unit (WPU).

The amount is “weighted” by age level. For kindergarten students, for example, schools receive 0.55 times the WPU, for students in grades one to six they receive 0.9 times the WPU, and for grades seven and eight they receive 0.99 times the WPU.

Funding levels are also different for special education students and students enrolled in career and technology education.

Despite the enrollment jump, Tooele County Schools have not added any new teachers, leading to increases in class sizes, according to Linares.

Throughout Tooele Valley schools, kindergarten classes are averaging 23.1 students this year while last year the average was 21.9. The average class size for first grade grew to 24.3 from 22.8 last year. The number of students in second grade decreased slightly to 24.2 students compared to 24.4 students last year. Third-grade classes jumped from an average of 23.8 students last year to 27.3 students. Fourth-grade classes stayed the same size at an average of 26.3 students. The average fifth-grade class grew from 26.2 last year to 27.5 this year, and sixth-grade classes grew from 27.3 last year to 29.1 this year.

However, individual classes can vary greatly from those average class sizes.

The largest kindergarten class size currently reported is 29 at East Elementary. In first through third grades, where the district’s optimal class size is 26, the numbers stretch as high as 31 in three third-grade classes at Copper Canyon Elementary. For fourth through sixth grade, the preferred class size is 27 but the numbers reach 33 in two fifth-grade classrooms at East Elementary.

On the north end of the district in Stansbury Park, Rose Springs Elementary remains the district’s fullest school. Rose Springs’ enrollment went down by 10 students, but at 837 students the school is still at 116 percent of its capacity.

In 2008, the school’s enrollment reached 882 students, or 122 percent of capacity. An adjustment of boundaries with Stansbury Elementary School reduced enrollment at Rose Springs to 751 in 2009, but the school has continued to grow. Four portables that house seven classrooms are now in use at Rose Springs.

The largest percentage growth in the district was at Dugway Elementary, which added 21 new students to reach an enrollment of 125 — a 17 percent growth.

Both Tooele and Stansbury high schools added 70 new students this fall. Stansbury, now at 98 percent of capacity, added two portables to handle growth this year.

Since 2000, enrollment in Tooele County schools has increased every year except in 2009, the year Excelsior Academy, the county’s first charter school, opened, when enrollment dropped by 1.7 percent. The largest single-year growth increase was 6.4 percent in 2005, and the 1.7 percent growth reported in 2011 was the lowest growth in the last 10 years.

Tim Gillie

Staff Writer at Tooele Transcript Bulletin
Tim covers education, Tooele City government, business, real estate, politics and the state Legislature. He became a journalist after a long career as an executive with the Boy Scouts of America. Tim is a native of Washington state and a graduate of Central Washington University.

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