About 9,600 additional students enrolled in Utah public schools this year, an increase of 1.5 percent.
This may seem like a sizable number, but Mark Peterson with the Utah State Office of Education said it is not out of the ordinary.
“This is actually slowing down a little bit,” Peterson said. “It’s been up and down over the years, but it’s been as high recently as about 2.5 percent back in 2008 and above 3 percent in 2006.”
There was a 1.7 percent increase in 2013, according to Peterson.
Though growth is slowing, Peterson said the almost 10,000 students is a lot to add to the education system in just one year. A major focus of the Office of Education, he said, is finding funding to support the growth.
“The increase to account for growth is about $75 million. The board is also looking to add a 1.5 percent increase for inflation, and the inflation would be another $38.75 million,” said Peterson.
Some districts see more growth than others depending on general population growth. Peterson said most of the growth in public schools comes from kids already in Utah, not through immigration.
“We see much bigger kindergarten classes, and the in-migration also tends to be younger students rather than older ones,” said Peterson.
Though much of the growth is in-state, the number of minority students attending public schools is also steadily rising, increasing to 24 percent of the student population this year.
Peterson said that in three Utah school districts, Salt Lake, Ogden and San Juan, minority students now make up a majority of the student population.
According to the report, about 622,000 students are enrolled in public schools across the state this year.