FARMINGTON -- Davis School District expected an additional 900 students in its schools this year. Instead, that number almost doubled, and school officials scrambled to make room in already crowded classrooms.
Davis School Board did recently approve a property tax increase to reduce class sizes by at least one student, but only for kindergarten through third grade.
The district expects its Oct. 1 numbers to be about 67,700 students, said Chase Rogers, planning director. Last year, 66,019 students were enrolled, or about 1,700 students fewer than this year.
Ogden School District is seeing overall fewer students enrolled this year than last year. As of Sept. 9, there were 12,302 students compared with Oct. 1, 2010, when enrollment was 12,568.
Weber School District enrollment increased by 300, but that was expected, said Nate Taggart, district spokesman.
Superintendent Dr. Ronald Wolff said Box Elder School District's enrollment has increased by 148 students from last year, bringing the number to 11,335.
Rogers said the majority of the gain in Davis is not from kindergartners, but from secondary students.
Officials saw the numbers shoot up when registration began three weeks before school.
The additional students have moved into the district, either into new homes built on the west side of the county, or into apartment complexes or in homes with their grandparents or other relatives.
At the junior high level, enrollment is more than 400 students above projections.
One of the hardest hit is North Davis Junior High School in Clearfield.
"We were planning on between 940 and 950 kids, but as of last week, it was 1,050 kids," said Principal Ryan Hansen.
The North Davis building is one of the newest in the district, so "we have a little room to grow. We're luckier than most schools that are at their max," he said.
But each core class, like English, math, social studies and science, has enrollments of 30 to 36 students. Last year, class enrollments were in the range of 28 to 32 students.
Davis High School also saw an unexpected enrollment increase. Principal Dee Burton said he was expecting to greet 2,200 students, but has 2,306 students enrolled.
Each core class has 36 to 42 students. The school has a federal grant that allows it to pay teachers to teach during one of their prep periods, which helps some, Burton said. But that grant expires after next school year.
And it's not just core subjects affected -- electives are as well.
Students who wanted to enroll in automotive, welding, construction or woodworking may have been turned away, officials said.
The classes are allowed to have only so many students because of safety and liability reasons.
Advanced placement classes at Davis High School are also filled to the max.
And for students who have individual education plans because of learning disabilities, it could mean teachers may not have the time to help them, said Viewmont High School Principal Dan Linford.
"It's a much greater challenge for teachers to meet the IEP goals when they can't offer the one-on-one attention with those students," Linford said. His school also saw more students than anticipated.
Linford said most studies say secondary students do better when class sizes are kept at 17, but he knows that will never happen in Utah.
A more realistic goal is to bring classrooms down to 27 students. That can only happen with additional funding, and with the current economy, Linford knows that won't happen anytime soon.
Crowded classrooms means teachers spend less time critiquing assignments or giving individual attention to students who need extra help, school officials said.
Burton said he worries more for the average students because "they may not get the individualized attention they need."
Yet, most secondary teachers are trying to meet the needs, he said.
He sees many of them arriving early and leaving late so they "can work with kids who are having a tough time."