Utah's school population increases by more than 12,000

Utah's school population increases by more than 12,000

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Utah's school population this year shows some interesting changes from last year.

There were 563,273 students in Utah public schools in 2009. That's an increase of 12,260 students compared to last year, or about a 2.2 percent growth.

"Most of the kids -- well into the 90 percent, 95 percent of kids that we are seeing in growth -- are already here. The ones who entered school this year were born between five and six years ago here in Utah," says Mark Peterson, the spokesman for the State Office of Education.

Peterson says the percentage of minority students went up .2 percent.

He says, "We are actually seeing a slight decrease in in-migration, which we are assuming is probably due to the economic situation in the country. The in-migration was never our big feeder to schools. It's Utahns having children."

The San Juan, Salt Lake and Ogden are now majority minority districts at 55.8 percent, 55.3 percent and 54.3 percent minority enrollment respectively; so are four charter schools.

Speaking of charter schools, enrollment there grew by 24 percent from 27,369 in 2008 to 34,166 in 2009.

"If charter schools were considered a district, they would actually be fifth largest," Peterson says.

But he says charter school enrollment still only accounts for 6 percent of total student enrollment in the state.

The largest district is now the Granite School District with 68,131 students. The Jordan School District was the largest until it split last year.

E-mail: mrichards@ksl.com

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