More students are attending Clark County public schools than ever before, according to a head count of 311,380 students on Friday.
The nation's fifth-largest school district topped the high it reached four years ago by 140 students, raising the high mark for enrollment by 0.04 percent. The district has about 3,007 students more than last year.
Hispanic students, which surpassed white students in 2006 as the largest group in the Clark County School District, became an even larger group this school year. The district gained 3,223 Hispanic students and lost 1,652 Caucasian students. Hispanics now make up 44 percent of district students. Caucasians account for 29 percent of district students. All other student ethnic groups increased their numbers, except for Native Americans.
Statewide, Hispanics edged by Caucasians two years ago to become Nevada's largest student group at nearly 39 percent of the enrollment. The Nevada Department of Education hasn't yet reported statewide enrollment numbers for the current school year.
Amanda Fulkerson, district spokeswoman, said the enrollment record is an argument for the proposed property tax increase for school renovations on the November ballot. The district seeks the tax increase to produce a maximum of $120 million a year for six years to renovate aging schools, buy equipment and construct schools. Property taxes would increase by about 21 cents per $100 of assessed valuation, meaning homeowners with a residence assessed at $100,000 would see an increase of $74.20 annually.
Although Clark County students set a new record this year, the slight climb is minimal compared with the usual growth.
From 1958 to 2008, the district's enrollment annually increased by an average of 5 percent, making it one of the country's fastest-growing districts. The student body tripled from 100,000 children in 1988 to more than 300,000 in 2008.
But district growth stalled in the teeth of a nationwide recession that hit hard in Nevada. For the first time in its history, Clark County's enrollment stagnated, with small decreases in the 2009-10 and 2011-12 school year. Since the district's inception in 1956, enrollment decreased in just one other year, 1984.
Clark County will send Friday's Count Day results to the Nevada Department of Education. This year's growth in enrollment will translate to about $15.4 million more in state funding, if the per-pupil rate stays constant.
Because staffing is based on enrollment, changes affect teacher assignments. The district takes an early count on Sept. 7 so teachers can be reassigned early in the year. To date, 101 teachers and other staff have moved to new schools because of enrollment shifts.