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Munger relieves crowding at Colter, Jackson

September 26, 2018

Teton County School District No. 1 continues to see enrollment growth.

Enrollment data for the 2018-19 school year, considered final on Sept. 19 after a 10-day drop period, showed the district has added 49 new students since the last day of school in June for a total of 2,885 students.

“That’s pretty consistent with our growth over time,” said Superintendent Gillian Chapman. “It’s a healthy number, and it’s a manageable number, especially now that our town elementary schools are right-sized.”

Total enrollment is projected to peak in 2022 at 3,017 students.

In addition to growth the data shows how drastically the opening of Munger Mountain Elementary School dropped the student population at Jackson and Colter elementary schools. Modular buildings were used at those schools due to crowding.

“It’s awesome to see kids being educated in spaces where they have space,” Chapman said. “When we toured JES or CES in the past, there were just so many kids and we couldn’t effectively operate our programs. We did a great job because of our outstanding staff in managing those buildings, but they were not built to house the number of kids we had there.”

In June, Jackson Elementary School had a student population of 559. It’s now less than half its former size, down to 251. Colter Elementary School ended the school year with 574 students and began this year with 353.

“It’s got such a completely different vibe when you’re at JES and CES,” Chapman said. “It’s not adults and kids everywhere.”

The new elementary school has a student count of 475. All elementary class sizes are now smaller, Chapman said, aligning with Wyoming’s model and benefiting students.

“It enables our teachers to really develop a relationship with the students and with the families,” she said.

Chapman and the board of trustees can’t rest on their laurels. Overcrowding is now moving into secondary grades, and the district retains between 97 and 110 percent of each class every year.

The district said all options except construction were exhausted last year. It is in the process of a most-cost-effective-remedy study to find options, including the potential for a school in Teton Village or at Stilson.

“The middle school and the high school remain our top priority,” Chapman said. “It’s not a bubble. Because bubbles end up bursting and for us, it’s just constant enrollment that we retain.”

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