Official enrollment figures from the South Sanpete School District's six schools show an overall increase of 104 students over last year. Last year's total was 2,604, this year's is 2,708.
Although district officials had projected an increase of about that number when preparing this year's budget, they are puzzled because the entire increase has occurred on the secondary school level, with the number in the three elementary schools slightly fewer than last year.In fact, most of the increase is at Gunnison Valley High School and Manti High School, with the Ephraim Middle School reporting only 11 more students.
By urban school standards, 104 more students would be an insignificant number, but to a small rural district it translates into four more classrooms.
In order to meet the need, the district is now utilizing a mobile classroom unit at Gunnison Valley High School and has one on order for delivery later this fall for Manti High School.
The South Sanpete District, unlike some of the other small rural districts in Utah, has had increases in student numbers over the past 10 years with the exception of one year.
The increases have averaged about 75 a year. District officials are attributing the larger number this year partly to an in-migration, with the construction of the Gunnison regional prison a major factor.
And with the prison now receiving prisoners and staffing going on by providing jobs, district officials anticipate continued increases and want to put the temporary solution of portable classrooms behind them.
At the primary election, the district's voters approved an increase of around $1.5 million in its bonded indebtedness. The new money will pay for classroom additions, now in the planning stage, at two schools.