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News release - Colorado public school enrollment increases to 910,280 students in preschool through 12th grade

Jan. 9, 2018

Colorado public school enrollment increases to 910,280 students in preschool through 12th grade

5,261 students added in 2017 is smallest increase since 1989

DENVER – A total of 910,280 public school students from preschool through 12th grade were counted in the annual pupil count report released today by the Colorado Department of Education, an increase of 5,261 students over 2016-17, which is the smallest increase since 1989-90.

Colorado’s student population has grown in each of the past 29 years and hasn’t seen a decrease in pupil enrollment since 1988.

This year’s increase of 5,261 students was 0.6 percent more than the previous year, but that was lower than the 20-year growth rate average of 1.3 percent. The student population growth in 2017-18 continues a trend of slower growth that started in 2013 as opposed to what Colorado had experienced for most of the past 20 years.

The largest 15 districts and their current student enrollments and percentage increase/decrease from 2016-17 are:

School District 2017 Enrollment Change from 2016
1) Denver Public Schools 91,794 .72% increase
2) Jeffco Public Schools 86,112 .27% decrease
3) Douglas County Schools 67,597 .18% increase
4) Cherry Creek Schools 55,657 1.53% increase
5) Aurora Public Schools 40,920 2.1% decrease
6) Adams 12 Five Star Schools 38,870 .13% increase
7) St. Vrain School District 32,421 .77% increase
8) Boulder Valley School District 31,282 .30% increase
9) Poudre School District 30,019 1.13% increase
10) Colorado Springs District 11 27,427 1.73% decrease
11) Academy School District 20 25,831 .93% increase
12) Greeley-Evans District 6 22,325 1.7% increase
13) Mesa Valley District 51 22,084 .09% decrease
14) Falcon School District 49 21,448 2.94% increase
15) School District 27J  17,833 4.49% increase


These 15 school districts, with a total enrollment of 611,670, represent 67.2 percent of the total statewide enrollment. In 2016-17 the 15 largest school districts made up 67.3 percent of the total statewide enrollment.

On the other end of the size spectrum, 133 of Colorado’s 185 districts and BOCES (excluding detention centers) have an enrollment of fewer than 2,000 students and currently enroll a combined total of 67,900 students, 7.5 percent of the total number of students in the state. Of these, 109 enroll fewer than 1,000 students. These 109 local education agencies enroll 3.9 percent of the total number of students in the state.

Race and Ethnicity Data

The group with the largest increase in total students counted is students identified as Hispanic or Latino, with an increase from 303,573 to 306,434 (2,861-student increase), which is a 0.94 percent increase over the 2016-17 Hispanic or Latino student population.

Racial/Ethnic Group

Percent of Total Population October 2017

American Indian or Alaska Native




Black or African American




Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander 


Two or More Races






Fastest Growing Districts

Of districts with greater than 100 students, the Charter School Institute had the largest gains in 2017, adding 1,128 students, which is a 6.9 percent increase from 2016. Part of the reason the Charter School Institute saw an increase this year was the addition of two new schools. Cherry Creek School District saw the second largest growth in the number of students this year with an increase of 842 students representing a 1.5 percent increase in the student population.

Las Animas School District had the largest percentage increase in 2017, growing by 46 percent or 544 students. This is the second consecutive year in which the district had the largest percentage increase in the state, with the district going from a population of 533 students in the fall of 2015 to 1,719 in the fall of 2017. Most of the district’s growth has been in its online schools, which are available to students across the state.
Three other districts increased by 500 or more students: School District 27J (768 students), Denver Public Schools (662 students) and Falcon 49 (614 students). 

District Decreases

Aurora Public Schools had the largest drop in student enrollment from 41,797 in 2016 to 40,920 in 2017, a decrease of 877 students or 2.1 percent. A total of 84 school districts or BOCES saw enrollment decreases in 2017 totaling 4,257 students. The districts with the largest decreases were Aurora Public Schools, Colorado Springs 11 (484 students), Pueblo City 60 (389 students), Jefferson County (235 students), and Westminster Public Schools (197 students).

Six school districts with a population of greater than 100 students saw a decrease in their population of 10 percent or more.


The Colorado River BOCES began reporting students at Yampah Mountain High School this fall. The school was reported in previous years as a part of the Mountain BOCES. As a result Mountain BOCES did not report any students this fall because they are no longer operating a public school, while the Colorado River BOCES is being included in the pupil membership data for the first time.

Online Enrollment

The 2017-18 enrollment totals include 19,876 students registered in online educational programs. This is 2.2 percent of all students. The online enrollment for 2017 is a 1.5 percent more from the 2016. The 2017 online enrollment reflects a 19.5 percent increase over the past five years and 116 percent increase over the past 10 years.

Free and Reduced Lunch Eligible Students

Fewer students were eligible for free and reduced price meals, which is traditionally an indication of poverty. A total of 379,458 students were reported as eligible for free or reduced price meals in 2017, or 41.7 percent of the state’s total student population. That is a 1,727-student decrease from the fall of 2016 and a 0.5 percent decrease in the number of students reported as eligible.

English Learners

A total of 128,274 students in 2017 were reported as receiving English Learner services or being monitored after exiting from an English Learner program, or 14.1 percent of Colorado’s students. This is a decrease of 963 students from the previous year.

Special Education Students

A total of 98,984 students were reported in the fall of 2017 as receiving special education services, or 10.9 percent of the state’s student population. This represents an increase of 3,622 students since the fall of 2016.

Gifted and Talented Students

A total of 67,082 students were identified as gifted and talented in 2017, or 7.4 percent of the state’s total student population. This is an increase of 1,268 students since fall of 2016.

To access to the complete 2017-18 school year student count information, visit the Pupil Membership webpage