(CBS4) — Colorado added almost 12,000 more kindergarten students at the beginning of this school year than it did the previous year. The increase is attributed by education officials to the passage of a law providing 100% funding for full-day kindergarten.

A total of 61,989 kindergartners enrolled in full-day classes last October. That’s 11,913 more than in October of 2018.

(credit: CBS)

House Bill 19-262 was signed into law in May by Gov. Jared Polis.

“It’s about time we treat kindergarten just as we do 1st grade, just as we do 5th grade and just as we do 8th grade because kindergarten is just as important as those other grades,” Polis said at the time.

Prior to the law’s passage, the state paid guaranteed school districts payment for half-day kindergarten. It covered 58% of full-day costs.

Funding for the new law comes from a mixture of sources, including $25 million from House Bill 18-1055 that was passed on the same day.

Lt. Gov. Dianne Primavera reads to kindergartners in March of 2019. (credit: CBS)

Student enrollment increased state-wide for the 30th consecutive year, according to numbers provided by the Colorado Department of Education on Thursday. It was 1988 when Colorado last saw a decrease in enrollment.

The largest 15 districts by their pre-k through 12th grade student enrollments in October 2019 were:
1. Denver Public Schools (92,112 students)
2. Jefferson County Public Schools (84,048 students)
3. Douglas County School District (67,305 students)
4. Cherry Creek Schools (56,172 students)
5. Aurora Public Schools (40,088 students)
6. Adams 12 Five Star Schools (38,707 students)
7. St. Vrain Valley School District (32,855 students)
8. Boulder Valley School District (31,000 students)
9. Poudre School District (30,754 students)
10. Academy School District 20 (26,603 students)
11. Colorado Springs School District 11 (26,040 students)
12. School District 49 (23,890 students)
13. Greeley-Evans School District 6 (22,467 students)
14. Mesa County Valley School, District 51 (22,046 students)
15. School District 27J (19,248 students)

Of districts with more than 100 students, District 49 in El Paso County had the largest growth in 2019, adding 1,493 students, a 6.7% increase from 2018. Brighton School District 27J saw the second-largest growth with an increase of 536 students. Pueblo County 70 School District (522 students) and Windsor RE-4 (528 students) also tallied significant increases.

Meanwhile, both Adams 12 and Jefferson County school districts had the largest drop in student enrollment this fall, each reporting a decrease of 575 students from 2018-19.

(credit: CBS)

Rural areas make up the majority of Colorado’s districts; 132 of the state’s 185 districts and BOCES (excluding detention centers) enrolled fewer than 2,000 students. However, those districts’ students account for only 7.3% of the total number of students in the state.

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