Enrollment numbers increase by more than 13,000 in Utah public schools

Published: Friday, Jan. 7 2011 1:38 p.m. MST

SALT LAKE CITY — An additional 13,000 students were counted in schools across the state in October 2010, resulting in a 2.3 percent increase in enrollment numbers over the previous year, according to the State Office of Education.

In October 2009, there were 563,273 students attending public schools in Utah. That number increased to 576,335 by October of 2010, resulting in even tighter budgets than anticipated for schools.

The State Office of Education predicts enrollment numbers will continue to increase in fall 2011, with an anticipated additional 14,754 students (an increase of 2.9 percent) filling schools across the state.

Gov. Gary Herbert recommended that the Legislature fund for that anticipated growth when it convenes the 2011 session later this month. He budgeted some $50 million for growth in his annual proposed budget released in December, something educators were glad for, since growth wasn't funded the previous year.

"Future funding for education in Utah must increase if we are to meet the demands of a growing number of students. We must find new revenue without eliminating existing sources," according to a Budget Priorities document put out by the board.

The board voted Dec. 3 to recommend the Legislature allocate an additional $76 million, some $57 million of which would cover enrollment growth.

An additional 17,423 students are expected to enter the system in fall 2012, but it's predicted that enrollment growth will slow down toward the end of the decade. The office anticipates enrollment numbers to increase by 1.3 percent from October 2019 to October 2020.

Utah hasn't experienced an enrollment decrease since October 2000, when there were about 700 fewer students enrolled in schools statewide than the previous October.

E-mail: mfarmer@desnews.com

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