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Wyoming Public Schools Saw Increase Of 54 Students This Fall

in News/Education

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming’s public education system saw an overall enrollment increase of 54 students this fall, according to data released by the Wyoming Department of Education.

As of fall 2021, the state had 91,992 students enrolled across its 48 school districts, a slight increase from the 91,938 enrolled in public schools last fall.

WDE numbers do not include students who are home-schooled or are enrolled in private school.

The data showed a significant decline in enrollment for virtual classes at the state’s two largest school districts — Laramie County School District No. 1 in Cheyenne and Natrona County School District No. 1 in Casper — which indicates students returned to their local school districts this fall to resume in-person instruction.

There also was a 5% to 10% drop in enrollment at three of the school districts on the Wind River Indian Reservation.

Cheyenne schools saw an increase in enrollment of nearly 200 students, keeping Laramie County School District No. 1 the largest in the state with a little more than 14,000 students.

The smallest school district in Wyoming was Park County School District No. 16 in Meeteetse, with 89 students, an increase of three from last fall.

The highest number of students enrolled in the last decade was in fall 2015, when more than 94,000 students enrolled in public schools.

Wyoming has not had more than 100,000 students enrolled in its public schools since the 1990s, according the WDE historical data.

The lowest number of enrolled students in the last 20 years was in fall 2005, 83,705 students were enrolled in the state’s public schools.

The Wyoming Department of Education did not immediately return a request for comment on the numbers.

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Northwest tries new tactics to attract students

in News/Education

Northwest College in Powell, facing declining enrollment for the last several years, has launched several efforts to build up the number of students attending the two-year school.

As of the fall of 2018, the number of full-time students attending the college in Powell stood at 807, compared to 948 in the fall of 2017.

College President Stefani Hicswa attributed the decline to the improving economy.

“Community college enrollment is directly tied to unemployment,” Hicswa said. “As people go to work, they don’t go to college. This is the lowest unemployment rate in 50 years, so they’re not choosing to attend college at this point.”

The college also faces competition from for-profit schools that can spend more on marketing, Hicswa said.

Northwest is changing some of its marketing approaches, such as relying more on social media, to reach students with its message, said Carey Miller, the college’s new director of Communication and Marketing.

Williams said efforts are focusing to spread the word about the college’s location, affordability, the quality of its programs and the college experience it offers.

“Those four things, Northwest College excels at,” she said.

In addition, the college is sending recruiters to meet with potential students, said Dee Havig, Northwest’s interim vice president for Student Services.

“Marketing tells us that social media is what students are wanting, but we’re also hearing they like that face-to-face and making that connection to someone with the school,” he said.

Hicswa said the college is also looking at new degree programs, partnerships with regional colleges and universities and the construction of a new student center to attract more students.

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