Built for 2,700 students, Granger High School welcomes more than 3,400 learners this fall, according to the latest state enrollment figures.
Not only is it the largest high school in Utah, but the Granite School District high school in West Valley City is one of the most diverse, serving a population where ethnic minorities make up 80% of the student body.
Yes, it gets a bit crowded during transit times and in the common areas, but manager David Dunn said: “It’s great to have kids back in the building. Last year was so different, but it kind of reinforced that schools are a place kids want to be. I think this is reflected in the fact that so many kids are coming back to school at this point so we love it.
With an enrollment of 3,406 people, enrollment at Granger High School on Oct. 1 places it at the top of the state in terms of student population. Next is Copper Hills High School in western Jordan, with an enrollment of 2,866, according to new enrollment figures released by the Utah State Board of Education.
In contrast, Lake Powell High School in the Kane County School District has four students.
Statewide, enrollment in Utah public schools this fall increased about 1.3% from the Oct. 1, 2020 student count, bringing the total student count to 675,247. That’s an increase of 8,638 students from last year, according to new data from the state.
Last fall, for the first time since 2000, public school enrollment fell amid the pandemic to 665,306 students. Kindergarten enrollment alone fell almost 4% statewide last year. Kindergarten is optional in Utah, but most children are enrolled.
It was part of a national trend due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Even when schools returned to in-person learning, many parents chose to keep them at home, according to the latest US Family Survey. The national survey of 3,000 adults nationwide indicates that more than half of respondents whose children did not attend school in person chose not to return to class when they were able. possibility. The survey’s margin of error is plus or minus 2 percentage points.
Most Utah schools reverted to in-person learning last fall, but some parents have chosen to keep children at home and enroll them in online education offered by their school district or in public charter schools specializing in virtual learning.
According to the tally for October 1 of this year, kindergarten enrollments have rebounded to higher levels than in 2019.
Transfers of students from public school to home schooling increased from 914 in fall 2019 to 3,375 in 2020. This fall that number fell to 1,227 this year, the council reported. State.
Enrollment in charter schools fell slightly, falling 1.9% to 77,786 students from 79,255 last year.
Meanwhile, online-only public school enrollment has remained virtually unchanged: 26,605 students in 2020 and 26,711 this year.
Alpine School District remains Utah’s largest school district with 83,999 learners. It is followed by Davis School District with 72,540 students and Granite with 60,371. The top five are completed by the Jordan School District at 57,840 and the Washington School District at 36,453.
Enrollment in the Salt Lake City school district fell for the third year in a row to 19,833.
Growing students and declining enrollment pose challenges for a number of reasons. In growing areas of the state, the construction needs of school districts are stressed to keep pace with increasing enrollment.
Since enrollment determines state funding formulas, fewer students means less state support.
This fall, the Granger High School Cup is overflowing with student numbers on the rise since fall 2018. The school, which was rebuilt and opened in 2013, now requires 10 movable classrooms to accommodate its students.
There are lots and lots of Lancers at Granger High School, but Dunn said he appreciates the school’s vibrancy.
“It’s the diversity that makes our school such a rich place. … When you walk in here the children feel at ease, ”he said.
It helps that they have a director who grew up outside of the United States and is multilingual. Born in Tanzania to a father who was a great professional hunter and took people on safari, Dunn grew up on a cattle ranch in Chihuahua, Mexico. He is fluent in English and Spanish, as well as Swahili.
About 60% of the school’s population is Hispanic, so “I probably spend the equivalent of two hours a day throughout the day speaking Spanish to students,” whose families are from Mexico and countries of the world. South America, he said.
“So it’s good when there is that connection, when they feel like an adult or the manager is speaking Spanish, and I think there is a certain trust that builds up pretty quickly,” Dunn said.
Speaking Spanish also helps build bridges with parents.
“I think removing a language barrier is a big step, but I think what’s even better is not only eliminating the language, but also understanding the culture. You can say, “You know, we can speak Spanish, but I also know that if you’re from Mexico, that’s probably what you experienced in Mexico. “
Then, “those walls come down and there’s a lot of confidence in the conversation. I think the parents feel very grateful, very grateful, ”he said.
Statewide, white students make up 72% of Utah’s public school population. Hispanic or Latino students make up 19% of Utah students, with Pacific Islander and Asian student groups accounting for 2% each. Black and Native American students each account for 1% of enrollment statewide, and students who identify as two other races make up 3% of the total.
According to state data, 27% of students in Utah public schools are economically disadvantaged. Eight percent are English learners and 12% are students with disabilities.
One percent of Utah students, or 9,014, are homeless, according to the count.