Colorado Department of Education official pupil count statistics show Salida School District R-32-J had an influx of 66 students between Oct. 1, 2018, and Oct. 1, 2019. New students brought the total to 1,331 students in the district this year.
The school with the largest population growth is Salida Middle School with 26 students added to the student population, mostly from a large entering fifth-grade class.
Salida Early Childhood Center added 25 students to its roster this year.
By school, Longfellow Elementary School has 12 more students than in 2018, SMS 26 more, Crest Academy 11 more and Horizons Exploratory Academy two more.
Salida High School showed a slight decrease in student population of 10 students.
The numbers also show student population growth from 2018 to 2019 by graduating class:
Class Growth School
2020 +4 SHS/HEA
2024 +8 SMS/Crest
2028 +3 LES
To put the numbers in historical perspective, the student population of Salida School District in 2015 was 1,194.
Enrollment by school:
School 2015 2019
SECC 63 86
LES 431 428
SMS 321 372
SHS 325 368
Crest 28 45
HEA 29 32
Based on an average of 24 students per classroom, the district has grown by just shy of six classrooms worth of students in five years.
Salida School District continues to show a growth trend in student population, according to statistics provided by the district, based on annual Oct. 1 pupil counts since 2011.
Since then, the district has added 206 students or approximately eight classrooms.
The district has gained approximately 26 students per year, mean average, over the last eight years. Lowest growth years were 2014 to 2015 with three new students and 2017 to 2018 with the introduction of 10 students.
Other demographics within the schools include the number of children on free and reduced lunch programs.
From 2018 to 2019 the number of students on free lunch has risen by 3.45 percent. Students on reduced lunch has risen by 1.67 percent. The number of students who pay for lunch has decreased by 5.11 percent.
The determination of free and reduced lunch eligibility is largely based on household composition and income and/or participation in assistance programs such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
Free and reduced lunch percentages:
Free 25.93 29.38
Reduced 7.35 9.02
Paid 66.72 61.61
Another area of district demographics within the pupil count includes students with special needs.
The 2.1 percent increase in the number of special education students in the 2019-2020 school year prompted the school board to approve additional special education teacher and paraprofessional positions to accommodate student needs.
Other special populations remained fairly stable, with slight increases in 504-plan students (needing accommodations for a disability) and English language learners.
Special education 9.7 11.8
Gifted and talented 3.2 3.2
504-plan students 2.1 2.3
English language learners 1.7 1.9
To counter the influx of students, the district introduced modular buildings to Longfellow Elementary School, Salida Early Childhood Center and Salida Middle School for the 2019-2020 school year.
For now, those temporary buildings are used to house services rather than classes to free space inside the buildings for student instruction.
The district is also in negotiations with the county to acquire land for a future school campus near Chaffee County Fairgrounds in Poncha Springs.