Student enrollment dropping

— Hayden schools are going to have to watch their budget as student enrollment dwindles in the next few years.

"We're not in the poor house, but we do need to watch it and be conservative," Superintendent Scott Mader told the Hayden School Board at its monthly meeting May 17.

A few years ago, Hayden schools acquired an influx of students, bringing traditional enrollment of about 500 students up to 550, Mader said.

"The influx is partly due to construction projects like the Grand Summit in Steamboat Springs, to the retrofit at the power plant in Hayden, and big, lengthy projects like them," high school Principal Nick Schafer said. "Now, the population has shifted again since some of these projects have been completed, so we are experiencing a decrease in our numbers. Going down to 500 students is only reverting to our traditional size, though."

Demographics throughout the valley are affecting student numbers in Hayden.

"Although the Yampa Valley is full of people, those moving to Steamboat tend to be wealthier, second-home owners whose children are grown; those moving to Hayden and Craig for more affordable living are usually young and finding entry-level jobs, and are without children," Schafer explained.

With the state providing an estimated $6,000 per student, those 50 extra students have meant approximately $300,000 in annual revenue for the district, Mader said.

The extra students in 1998 and 1999 helped the school district significantly. The district is currently spending $91,000 of its capital reserve on new roofing and heating systems.

"As the number of students shrinks in 2001 and 2002, expenditures on roofing and heating will also shrink," Mader said. "We will have a smaller budget, but we will have less expenditures too. Nevertheless, we should be conservative. Now is the time to watch our budget."

Smaller student numbers may also mean cutting budgets and teaching staff.

"Funding is all centered around numbers of students," Schafer said.

One of three first-grade teachers, Maureen McCabe, has not been offered a contract for the 2000-01 school year because enrollment is down, Hayden Valley Elementary Principal Mike Luppes said.

"There is a possibility of re-hiring in August for fall of 2000, but that will depend on actual registered students at that point. Some who are indicating they are going to move may stay; there may be new children in the area. We'll just have to wait and see what staffing needs will be when August rolls around," he said.

Fewer students in the schools is not all bad, he added.

"Smaller numbers are good because we have smaller class sizes, and more opportunity for one on one teaching," Schafer said.

The high school will take the biggest hit of the three Hayden schools; a decrease of 25 students has been projected for next year.

"It's is because we have a real small incoming eighth-grade class, and also because, unfortunately, we have a good number of dropouts," Schafer said.

During the 1999-2000 school year, eight students dropped out of high school in Hayden. Although one dropped out to take a GED and attend college, many of the remaining two seniors and five juniors dropped out because of a new system of school rules, Schafer said.

"Some of the students dropping out told me it wasn't fun to be here anymore. It is no longer acceptable to be disrespectful, to lay around in the halls. Students have to be in class, and we've also tightened up smoking and fighting rules. The consequences for breaking the rules are a little stiffer, too," he said. "But sometimes the absence of students who don't like rules like these can actually benefit the students who stay. Some students here have told me so."

To contact Bonnie Nadzam call 871-4205 or e-mail

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