According to the latest figures from the Wyoming Department of Education, the state’s K-12 enrollment increased this year for the first time in three years.
Ironically, the 2018-2019 school year is the first time in six years that Albany County School District No. 1’s enrollment has not grown.
WDE’s data indicates ACSD No.1 had 4,009 students on Oct. 1, 17 fewer students than a year prior.
In the 2017-2018 school year, the district added more students than all 47 other school districts in the state, according to March data from WDE.
A school’s changes in enrollment has enormous impacts for its state funding, and ACSD No. 1’s enrollment growths have helped ensure stable financing as other districts in the state have been forced into laying off employees amid funding cuts.
The district’s enrollment grew in nine of the 10 previous years. The 2018-2019 enrollment, however, is still higher than all but one of those years.
With a fall enrollment of 325 students, ACSD No. 1’s kindergarten class is the smallest it’s been since 2008. Only the district’s 11th grade experienced a bigger drop, with 43 fewer students than last year. That decrease is a credit to last year’s class moving on to comprise Laramie High School’s largest senior class in more than a decade. The current senior class had 293 students as of Oct. 1.
ACSD No. 1’s second grade class had the greatest increase, with 30 more students than last year.
In the last two decades, the state’s highest enrollment came in 2015-2016, a school year that followed 11 years of consecutive growth.
Wyoming’s overall K-12 enrollment added 53 students this year in what State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow called an “encouraging” sign for Wyoming’s economic diversity.
The latest enrollment figures also suggest Albany County’s ethnic diversity is increasing.
In the last four years, the district’s enrollment of Hispanic students has increased from 543 to 695.
The district current offers a “dual-language immersion” program at Indian Paintbrush and Spring Creek elementary schools. That program teaches students in Spanish for half the day and English for the other half.
The voluntary program has mostly attracted native English speakers thus far. As the number of native Spanish speakers in the district has increased, administrators have been hoping the program attracts more students from that demographic.