By Traci Chapman
Yukon Public Schools this year continued a 16-year trend, as student population has topped the 9,000 mark and inches ever closer to a 10,000-district milestone.
“It’s our 16th consecutive year of growth, just a steady increase over time,” Yukon Superintendent Dr. Jason Simeroth told YPS Board of Education members during their Monday meeting. “We’re looking this year at 1.3% growth.”
Enrollment statistics are measured as of Oct. 1 each year, allowing an “apples to apples” comparison of populations district-wide, by school site and in a variety of categories.
The district overall increased from 8,889 students during the 2018-2019 year to 9,005 this reporting period, the superintendent said. Enrollment changes impacted some schools, including Shedeck, Myers and Parkland elementaries; five sites – including Myers – marked enrollment decreases, while Parkland’s 33.4% increase in student population was the biggest hike among the five schools that saw higher numbers overall, reports showed.
While Myers saw an 18.3% enrollment dip this year, the superintendent said that was part of a realignment that shifted some students to Parkland.
In addition to Parkland, Central and Surrey Hills and Yukon’s middle and high schools reported growth between 2018 and the 2019-20 school year, Simeroth said. YHS growth broke a three-year streak of falling numbers, as the school this year saw the addition of 72 students, records showed.
Yukon High School this term has 2,555 students enrolled, officials said, while Yukon Middle School increased from 2,025 to 2,068 between 2018 and 2019.
SPECIFIC ENROLLMENT TRENDS
The district also measured enrollment trends for a set of specific criteria – gifted and talented; students on Individualized Education Programs, or IEPs; bilingual and EL students; immigrant; and those approved for free and/or reduced lunches.
This school year, 1,751 students across Yukon Public Schools are identified as “gifted and talented.” It’s a classification that records showed has seen constant, steady growth since the 2016-2017 school year, when 1,297 children and youth district-wide were designated in that category.
Data concerning students on IEPs indicated fluctuations between years – with increases notated between 2016 and 2017 and again between 2018 and 2019. During the 2016-17 school year, 1,316 students were on IEPs, a number that increased the following year to 1,413. IEP-designated students dropped to 1,377 in 2018, before showing a sharp increase this term – totaling 1,466.
Like IEP student statistics, one of the few categories not showing a straight increase was Yukon bilingual students. Eight hundred seventy students in 2016 were designated bilingual, a number that jumped to 1,025 in 2017. In 2018 district bilingual students fell to 1,017, while in 2019 it increased, this time to 1,067.
Yukon EL student trends, conversely, marked a steady increase through the years – from 335 in 2016 to 494 in 2019;
Yukon immigrant student numbers have fluctuated between years, with that figure topping out at 78 during the 2016-17 year. Since then that specific population set has steadily declined, administrators said, this year standing at 51 students classified as immigrants.
The number of students taking part in free or reduced lunch programs across the district have steadily rise during the four-year period starting in 2016, records showed. That year, 3,600 students qualified for the federal program; in 2019 that number totaled 4,005 district-wide.