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News Release - Colorado adds nearly 12,000 full-day kindergarten students in first year of new law

Jan. 23, 2020

Colorado adds nearly 12,000 full-day kindergarten students in first year of new law 

State’s overall enrollment increased only slightly from last school year 

DENVER – A total of 61,989 kindergartners enrolled in full-day classes in Colorado’s public schools this fall, 11,913 more than the previous year, an increase that can be attributed to legislation that went into effect for the 2019-20 school year.

House Bill 19-1262 passed last year, providing 100% funding for full-day kindergarten. In previous years, the state only paid 58% funding for full-day kindergarten.

Overall, the total increase in preschool through 12th grade enrollment for Colorado’s public schools grew by only 0.2% from the previous year with 913,223 students being counted this fall, 1,687 more than in 2018-19. Colorado’s student population has continued to grow in each of the past 30 years. The last time the state saw a decrease in pupil enrollment was the fall of 1988. 

Big and little districts

The largest 15 districts by their pre-k through 12th grade student enrollments in October 2019 were:

  1. Denver Public Schools (92,112 students)
  2. Jefferson County Public Schools (84,048 students)
  3. Douglas County School District (67,305 students)
  4. Cherry Creek Schools (56,172 students)
  5. Aurora Public Schools (40,088 students)
  6. Adams 12 Five Star Schools (38,707 students)
  7. St. Vrain Valley School District (32,855 students)
  8. Boulder Valley School District (31,000 students)
  9. Poudre School District (30,754 students)
  10.  Academy School District 20 (26,603 students)
  11.  Colorado Springs School District 11 (26,040 students)
  12.  School District 49 (23,890 students)
  13. Greeley-Evans School District 6 (22,467 students)
  14. Mesa County Valley School, District 51 (22,046 students)
  15. School District 27J (19,248 students)

This fall, these 15 school districts had a total enrollment of 613,335, representing 67.2% of the statewide pre-K through 12th grade enrollment.

On the other end of the spectrum, 132 of Colorado’s 185 districts and BOCES (excluding detention centers) enrolled fewer than 2,000 students. These 132 agencies counted 66,767 students, 7.3% of the total number of students in the state. Of these, 109 districts enrolled fewer than 1,000 students, 3.9% of the total number of students in the state.  

Race and Ethnicity Data

Racial Ethnic Group

Students Enrolled

October 2019

Percentage point change

from 2018

Percent of total population

October 2019

American Indian or Alaskan Native

6,210

-4.5

0.7%

Asian

29,209

+0.5

3.2%

Black or African American

41,554

+1.0

4.5%

Hispanic/Latino

309,972

+1.3

33.9%

Native Hawaiian

or other Pacific Islander

2,433

-0.1

.3%

Two or More Races

40,794

+2.4 

4.5%

White

483,051

-0.7

52.9%


Fast-growing Districts

Of districts with more than 100 students, District 49 in El  Paso County had the largest growth in 2019, adding 1,493 students, a 6.7%  increase from 2018. School District 27J saw the second-largest growth with an increase of 536 students, a 2.9% increase.

Of all districts, Vilas School District had the largest percentage increase in 2019 -- 134%-- adding 59 students. 

Other districts that saw their student population increase by 500 or more students include Pueblo County 70 School District (522 students) and Windsor RE-4 (528 students). Sixteen school districts and BOCES had an increase of 100 or more students and another two districts reported an increase of more than 90 students. A total of 27 school districts and BOCES, plus Colorado detention centers, saw an increase in their student populations of 5% or more. 

District Decreases

Both Adams 12 and Jefferson County School districts had the largest drop in student enrollment this fall, each reporting a decrease of 575 students from 2018-19, with Adams 12 down by 1.5% and Jefferson County down by 0.7%. A total of 93 districts, BOCES, plus Colorado detention centers saw enrollment decreases in 2019, totaling 6,001 students. Of those districts, 19 had decreases of 50 or more students, and 13 had decreases of 100 students or more. 

Follow this link to access the complete 2019-20 school year student count information. 

Online Enrollment

A total of 22,448 students registered in online educational programs this fall, which represents 2.5% of all Colorado public school students. The online enrollment for 2019 jumped 5.7% from the 2018 online enrollment count of 21,246 students.

Free and Reduced Lunch Eligible Students

This year there was an increase in the number of pre-K through 12th grade students eligible for free and reduced price meals, a measurement of poverty. A total of 371,804 students are eligible for free or reduced price meals or 40.7% of the state’s total student population. That is a 478-student increase from 2018-19 and a 0.1% increase in students reported as eligible.

English Learners

In the fall, 123,248 students were reported as receiving English learner services or being monitored after being exited from an English learner program. This is a decrease of 2,229 students from the previous year. This year 13.5% of Colorado’s students are considered English learners.

Special Education Students

A total of 11.6% of the state's public school students, or 106,238 students, were reported in the fall as receiving special education services. This represents an increase of 4,157 students since the fall of 2018.

Gifted and Talented Students

As of this fall, 66,983 students were identified as gifted and talented or 7.3% of the state’s total student population, which is an increase of 306 students since fall of 2018.

Student October Count

The Student October Count is based on a predetermined time period in October that can vary for each district based on their adopted academic calendar.