GROWTH CONTINUES IN NORTHERN COLORADO
We're fortunate to be a part of a vibrant, growing community. The communities we serve have been lauded as some of the best in Colorado, and this is reflected in our enrollment numbers. For the 2009-10 school year, we served 4,082 students in our district. We've nearly doubled to 8,104 for the 2021-22 school year. That's a 98.5% increase in 12 years.
GROWTH RESULTS IN CAPACITY CHALLENGES & STUDENT IMPACT
For capacity, we look at two aspects:
1) Core Building — The building is built for a specific number of students, including shared spaces, like gyms, cafeterias, hallways, etc.
2) Modulars — These additional structures provide classroom space, but do not increase the core building space for those shared spaces.
Districtwide, we're at 110% capacity utilization for our core buildings. When we include modulars, we're at 95%. Next year, we expect to be at 122% core building capacity and 97% capacity with modulars.
Capacity challenges affect students in three main ways.
LARGE CLASS SIZES
With a finite number of physical classrooms, the number of students per class has had to increase. This reduces one-on-on learning support.
New and innovative programs are limited by the spaces available. Additionally, spaces like computer labs and collaborative spaces have transitioned to instructional spaces.
To help manage this year's growth, we purchased five modulars (25 classrooms). This is in addition to our 16 existing modulars (48 classrooms). Every single school in our district will have at least one modular to support our capacity challenges in 2022-23.
GROWTH TO CONTINUE
We worked with a demographer to determine projections for future growth. It may come as no surprise — all signs point to the growth continuing. By the 2025 school year, we expect to see 10,501 students in our district, a 32% increase from this school year.
WHY GROWTH DOESN'T PAY FOR ITSELF
In Colorado, education is funded by state and local revenue. As our local communities grow and assessed values increase, local sources fund more and the state funds less. Our "net" as a district does not change, no matter how much our communities grow.
For our general fund, we receive $9,044 per student (Per Pupil Revenue) from the state. This amount is set each year by the legislature. Of the 178 school districts, we are the ninth least-funded school district in the entire state.
Development: Land Dedication and Cash-in-Lieu
New housing developments in the Weld RE-4 School District must provide land for a school or pay a cash-in-lieu fee to help offset the growth, as outlined in Intergovernmental Agreements (IGAs) with our local municipalities. The funding received can only be used to purchase or prepare school sites. Funding to build, operate, and maintain new schools is dependent upon taxpayer-approved funding.
As of May 6, 2022, the cash-in-lieu fund balance was $7.6M. Approximately $5M is earmarked for the purchase and site development costs for the future WMS site off of 15th Street.