Westlake High School hits 3,000 students 01

Students change classes during the first lunch period at Westlake High School on Monday, Oct. 16, 2017. It's been the largest school in Alpine School District, but this year is the first time it's crossed the 3,000 mark. Sammy Jo Hester, Daily Herald

The Alpine School District is closing in on an enrollment of 80,000 students.

The district had 79,856 students as of Oct. 1, according to the district’s annual enrollment report, up from 78,958 students last year.

It’s growth of 1.14 percent, the lowest increase from the previous year since at least 2005.

The district is projected to have 80,851 students enrolled in the fall of 2019 and 85,240 students by 2023.

The numbers were presented to the Alpine School District Board of Education during a board meeting Tuesday evening.

Five of the district’s 59 elementary schools had more than 1,000 students enrolled, with an additional school, River Rock Elementary School in Lehi, at 999 students, as of Oct. 1.

The district’s largest elementary school as of Oct. 1 was Brookhaven Elementary School in Eagle Mountain, which opened this fall with 1,183 students. Following it in enrollment are Black Ridge Elementary School in Eagle Mountain with 1,102 students, Sage Hills Elementary School in Saratoga Springs with 1,036 students, Dry Creek Elementary School in Lehi at 1,055 students and Eaglecrest Elementary School in Eagle Mountain with 1,017 students.

The numbers also reveal that Vista Heights Middle School in Saratoga Springs is the largest junior high or middle school in the district, with 2,240 students as of Oct. 1.

Westlake High School continued to have the highest enrollment among high schools, with 3,219 students. Following it in enrollment is Skyridge High School in Lehi with 2,828 students and Lone Peak High School in Highland with 2,493 students.

The opening of Cedar Valley High School in Eagle Mountain in the fall will draw students from Westlake High School, decreasing its enrollment next year.

The district will also open an elementary school in northwest Lehi and a new middle school in Saratoga Springs in the fall.

Two Orem elementary schools — Hillcrest Elementary School and Scera Park Elementary School — will be consolidated next year in a new building. The two schools have about 700 students combined.

Jason Sundberg, the district’s assistant director of accounting, told the board of education the projections are created from a variety of factors, including birth data and how many construction permits are issued.

He told the board the district received about 300 fewer students this year than projected, partially because the district learned that Ignite Entrepreneurship Academy, a public charter school that opened in Lehi this fall, would open after the estimates were made.

Brookhaven Elementary School opened with about 300 more students than expected.

“That school will grow very fast,” Sundberg said.

John Patten, the district’s assistant superintendent who oversees education services and K-12 education, questioned when the district will stop building schools at its current rate and how the district can approximate what size a school should be when it’s built in a high growth area.

Patten said it looks bad for the district when a new school is opened in the fall and a portable or satellite classrooms are added by Christmas because residents question if the district knew if growth was coming.

The district currently doesn’t build schools for their maximum capacity, but instead builds schools so that portable or satellite classrooms would be added when the schools hit their peak capacity.

“That will help us extend in an economical way into the peak times,” Patten said.

When enrollment drops, the portable and satellite classrooms are moved to other schools.