Enrollment still grows in schools
The Arizona Republic
Aug. 26, 2005
JJ Hensley


Mesa Public Schools enrollment continues to grow, slowly but surely.

The district had 72,034 students enrolled on the first day of classes, Aug. 15, and had added more than 1,800 by Thursday for a total of 73,947.

The district's enrollment is expected to continue its climb through next week. Mesa schools are adding more than 100 students a day, according to a report that associate superintendent Mike Cowan read to board members Tuesday evening.

If the district adds about 2,100 students, Mesa Public Schools could eclipse last year's enrollment figure of 75,981.

"Usually the week after Labor Day is when it really slows down," said Joe O'Reilly, the district's director for student achievement support.

The district has grown steadily over the last several years, adding from 200 to 400 students annually. That growth is still far short of what Mesa experienced in the mid-1980s, however, when 4,000 students, or more, would join the district each year. That pushed Mesa to build more schools and making the district the largest in the state.

That enrollment growth also made the district one of the richest.

The number of students largely determines school-district funding.

Every public school district in the state gets a base of about $3,000 this year, though factors ranging from the number of special education students, to a district's growth rate to the number of English-language learners can supplement those funds. Mesa Public Schools' budget is about $537 million this year.

Mesa is still the largest district in the state, followed by Tucson Unified, with more than 62,000 students. Both continue to rank among the 50 largest districts in the United States.

New York City Public Schools is the largest district, with more than 1 million students.