Friday Churn: Enrollment up 1.3%

Updated 10 a.m. – Statewide school enrollment grew 1.3 percent this year, up 10,949 students to 854,265.

The growth is in line with the rates of recent years, although the student population increased 2 percent in 2008-09.

The official enrollment number, which is a key factor in annual school finance calculations, is based on attendance counts taken in a small time window around Oct. 1 each year.

That so-called single day count has been criticized as not accurately reflecting actual enrollment across a whole school year and for not capturing student movement among schools. There may be legislation at the Capitol this year to change the counting system.

The largest increases were reported for the Denver Public Schools, schools supervised by the Charter School Institute and for online programs. (Two small districts, Hi-Plains and Pawnee, reported increases of more than 20 percent.)

DPS added 2,573 students, or 3.29 percent, while CSI schools gained 2,525 students, a 31.64 percent increase. Those schools now have 10,506 students.

Online programs now enroll 16,221 students, a 6.4 percent increase from 2010-11. There were only 1,987 online students in 2002-03.

The Department of Education reported a 10.6 percent in students identified as multi-racial and an 8.3 percent increase in students identified as Asian. Only minor changes were reported in other ethnic and racial groups.

This year 41.27 percent of K-12 students are eligible for free and reduced-price lunch compared to 40.3 percent in 2010-11.

The enrollment report reflects student headcounts, including students who aren’t enrolled full time.

Get full information on 2011-12 enrollment here.

Daily Churn logoWhat’s churning:

Members of the Jeffco Public Schools board of education will fan out across the county Saturday for five simultaneous community forums on how best to trim $50 million to $60 million from the district’s budget over the next two years. The forums will run from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.

The district Citizens’ Budget Advisory Council has forwarded a list of 82 specific suggestions for cuts and revenue increases. The vast majority of the ideas are cuts.

The five locations:

  • Arvada High School, 7951 W. 65th Ave., Arvada
  • Columbine High School, 6201 S. Pierce St., Littleton
  • Evergreen High School, 29300 Buffalo Park Rd., Evergreen
  • Ralston Valley High School, 13355 W. 80th Ave., Arvada
  • Bear Creek High School, 9800 W. Dartmouth Pl., Lakewood

Budget forums will be facilitated by board members and assisted by district staff. Forum participants will take part in small group discussions; the forums are open to all. “Keep in mind that no final decisions about the budget have been made,” according to the district news release.

What’s on tap:

Denver Public Schools board members will meet with the Student Board of Education at noon in the board’s usual ground-floor meeting space at 900 Grant St.

In keeping with the spirit of what has been declared National School Choice week, “School Choice in DPS” is slated for 3:30 p.m. at the office of Education Reform Now, 2543 California St., in Denver. Among the guests expected is nationally prominent Democratic consultant Joe Trippi. Guests are asked to RSVP to Rachel Gordon at Education Reform Now, Space is limited.

U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, D-Boulder, will tour Casey Middle School, the first LEED Platinum Certified school in Colorado, with Nancy Sutley, President Obama’s principal environmental advisor and chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality. During the visit, they will learn how the school’s energy upgrades including solar panels and a new ground source heat exchange system are saving it more than 50 percent on its energy bill even as the school has expanded its facilities by 40 percent. The tour begins at 1:30 p.m. at the school, 1301 High St. in Boulder.

Good reads from elsewhere:

Public health officials continue to test students and staff at Longmont High School after the discovery of latent tuberculosis at the school, reports the Longmont Times-Call.

State Board of Education Chairman Bob Schaffer, who is also the principal of Liberty Common High School in Fort Collins, endorsed the work of Neenan Co. as the school prepares to break ground for an expansion next week. The Fort Collins Coloradoan reported that the school built “an extra layer” of engineering oversight into its contract with Neenan, which is embroiled in a state investigation into the quality of its work at 15 other sites.

The EdNews’ Churn is a daily roundup of briefs, notes and meetings in the world of Colorado education. To submit an item for consideration in this listing, please email us at

School safety

Hiring more security officers in Memphis after school shootings could have unintended consequences

PHOTO: Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post/Getty Images

Tennessee’s largest district, Shelby County Schools, is slated to add more school resource officers under the proposed budget for next school year.

Superintendent Dorsey Hopson earmarked $2 million to hire 30 school resource officers in addition to the 98 already in some of its 150-plus schools. The school board is scheduled to vote on the budget Tuesday.

But an increase in law enforcement officers could have unintended consequences.

A new state law that bans local governments from refusing to cooperate with federal immigration officials could put school resource officers in an awkward position.

Tennessee Education Commissioner Candice McQueen recently reminded school personnel they are not obligated to release student information regarding immigration status. School resource officers employed by police or sheriff’s departments, however, do not answer to school districts. Shelby County Schools is still reviewing the law, but school board members have previously gone on the record emphasizing their commitment to protecting undocumented students.

“Right now we are just trying to get a better understanding of the law and the impact that it may have,” said Natalia Powers, a district spokeswoman.

Also, incidents of excessive force and racial bias toward black students have cropped up in recent years. Two white Memphis officers were fired in 2013 after hitting a black student and wrestling her to the ground because she was “yelling and cussing” on school grounds. And mothers of four elementary school students recently filed a lawsuit against a Murfreesboro officer who arrested them at school in 2016 for failing to break up a fight that occurred off-campus.

Just how common those incidents are in Memphis is unclear. In response to Chalkbeat’s query for the number and type of complaints in the last two school years, Shelby County Schools said it “does not have any documents responsive to this request.”

Currently, 38 school resource officers are sheriff’s deputies, and the rest are security officers hired by Shelby County Schools. The officers respond and work to prevent criminal activity in all high schools and middle schools, Hopson said. The 30 additional officers would augment staffing at some schools and for the first time, branch out to some elementary schools. Hopson said those decisions will be based on crime rates in surrounding neighborhoods and school incidents.

Hopson’s initial recommendation for more school resource officers was in response to the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 people and sparked a wave of student activism on school safety, including in Memphis.

Gov. Bill Haslam’s recent $30 million budget boost would allow school districts across Tennessee to hire more law enforcement officers or improve building security. Measures to arm some teachers with guns or outlaw certain types of guns have fallen flat.

For more on the role and history of school resource officers in Tennessee, read our five things to know.

Sheriff’s deputies and district security officers meet weekly, said Capt. Dallas Lavergne of the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office. When the Memphis Police Department pulled their officers out of school buildings following the merger of city and county school systems, the county Sheriff’s Office replaced them with deputies.

All deputy recruits go through school resource officer training, and those who are assigned to schools get additional annual training. In a 2013 review of police academies across the nation, Tennessee was cited as the only state that had specific training for officers deployed to schools.

call out

Our readers had a lot to say in 2017. Make your voice heard in 2018.

PHOTO: Chris Hill/Whitney Achievement School
Teacher Carl Schneider walks children home in 2015 as part of the after-school walking program at Whitney Achievement Elementary School in Memphis. This photograph went viral and inspired a First Person reflection from Schneider in 2017.

Last year, some of our most popular pieces came from readers who told their stories in a series that we call First Person.

For instance, Carl Schneider wrote about the 2015 viral photograph that showed him walking his students home from school in a low-income neighborhood of Memphis. His perspective on what got lost in the shuffle continues to draw thousands of readers.

First Person is also a platform to influence policy. Recent high school graduate Anisah Karim described the pressure she felt to apply to 100 colleges in the quest for millions of dollars in scholarships. Because of her piece, the school board in Memphis is reviewing the so-called “million-dollar scholar” culture at some high schools.

Do you have a story to tell or a point to make? In 2018, we want to give an even greater voice to students, parents, teachers, administrators, advocates and others who are trying to improve public education in Tennessee. We’re looking for essays of 500 to 750 words grounded in personal experience.

Whether your piece is finished or you just have an idea to discuss, drop a line to Community Editor Caroline Bauman at

But first, check out these top First Person pieces from Tennesseans in 2017:

My high school told me to apply to 100 colleges — and I almost lost myself in the process

“A counselor never tried to determine what the absolute best school for me would be. I wasted a lot of time, money and resources trying to figure that out. And I almost lost myself in the process.” —Anisah Karim     

Why I’m not anxious about where my kids go to school — but do worry about the segregation that surrounds us

“In fact, it will be a good thing for my boys to learn alongside children who are different from them in many ways — that is one advantage they will have that I did not, attending parochial schools in a lily-white suburb.” —Mary Jo Cramb

I covered Tennessee’s ed beat for Chalkbeat. Here’s what I learned.

“Apathy is often cited as a major problem facing education. That’s not the case in Tennessee.” —Grace Tatter

I went viral for walking my students home from school in Memphis. Here’s what got lost in the shuffle.

“When #blacklivesmatter is a controversial statement; when our black male students have a one in three chance of facing jail time; when kids in Memphis raised in the bottom fifth of the socioeconomic bracket have a 2.6 percent chance of climbing to the top fifth — our walking students home does not fix that, either.” —Carl Schneider

I think traditional public schools are the backbone of democracy. My child attends a charter school. Let’s talk.

“It was a complicated choice to make. The dialogue around school choice in Nashville, though, doesn’t often include much nuance — or many voices of parents like me.” —Aidan Hoyal

I grew up near Charlottesville and got a misleading education about Civil War history. Students deserve better.

“In my classroom discussions, the impetus for the Civil War was resigned to a debate over the balance of power between federal and state governments. Slavery was taught as a footnote to the cause of the war.” —Laura Faith Kebede