Enrollment trends shift demographics

Kate Glover

Editor’s Note: All data was sourced from Poudre School District or Colorado Department of Education reports. Data was collected in October, near the beginning of each school year. Though populations do not often fluctuate extremely between collections, exact numbers may still change after October. 

The high schools considered in this article are Rocky Mountain High School, Poudre High School, Fossil Ridge High School, Fort Collins High School, Timnath Middle-High School, and Wellington Middle-High School. Charter, online, and alternative high schools are not included. For the purposes of this article, student populations at middle-high schools include only high school students (9th-12th grade). 


New desks, fresh paint, and the sound of hundreds of excited students fill the middle-high buildings in Timnath and Wellington. These new schools opened in the Fall of 2022, welcoming 671 high school students. With the opening of these new institutions, enrollment has shifted across the district, changing the demographics of PSD high schools. As enrollment and student demographics among the schools change, so do the learning environments and communities.


School sizes experience changes this year

For the last five years, FRHS has been the largest high school in PSD. Their enrollment increased through the ’21-’22 school year. However, enrollment dropped significantly this year, putting Fossil in second place. RMHS is currently the largest high school, with 2,069 students. PHS has consistently been the smallest high school.

 However, Wellington Middle-High and Timnath Middle-High are both smaller in their inaugural year, with 301 and 370 students, respectively. This does translate into less competition for opportunities, such as varsity positions in athletics. However, it also limits the class offerings of these schools. 

The middle high schools currently serve 6th-10th grade students. When the student body includes juniors and seniors, the environment and offerings will move closer to what most PSD students experience at larger high schools. 

Schools by Size (’22-’23) 

  1. Rocky (2,069)
  2. Fossil (2,005)
  3. Collins (1,904)
  4. Poudre (1,663)
  5. Timath (370)
  6. Wellington (301)


New Middle-Highs’ effects on enrollment: 

FRHS lost 258 students between the ’21-’22 and ’22-’23 school years. Students living in Timnath were previously zoned for Fossil, but have been redirected to the newly-opened Timnath Middle-High School. Many students have chosen to attend this new neighborhood school, instead of driving to Fossil, giving TMHS a large incoming class. 

“It steadily grew, and it was mostly people in the boundary who decided later that they did want to come to the school,” Jesse Morrill, Principal of TMHS, explained.“We saw a particular spike at the end of the summer, when we had the ribbon cutting ceremony. When people came and saw the building, it got some people excited who lived in Timnath.” 

TMHS has a max capacity for 1,500 students across all grade levels. The school has room to grow, with the total population currently at 1,024. 

 “We’re definitely filling the school up, but we’re not at capacity yet,” Morrill said. “We expect to be at capacity by year three, when we have seniors.”

Timnath’s first year being 6-12 will be the 2024-2025 school year. This is also the year Fossil will have all grade levels at a reduced size, as the incoming class sizes are substantially smaller than the current outgoing class.  It is predicted that FRHS’s student population will likely fall below 2,000 in the 2023-2024 school year. 

At the start of the 2022-2023 school year, a new middle-high school was also opened in Wellington. Before this, students living in Wellington were zoned for Poudre High School, which had a student population of 1,961. With the opening of the new middle-high school, many Wellington students attend school in their hometown, rather than making the 20 minute drive to Poudre. PHS now has a student population of 1,663 (a decrease of 298), and Wellington Middle-High School has a student population of 301.

Both middle-high schools have 9th grade classes larger than their 10th grade class sizes, as many sophomore students are choosing not to transfer from their original schools. Incoming classes are expected to be even larger in the 2023-2024 school year, with students who didn’t enter a new middle-high for 8th grade joining the student body as freshmen. 


Diversity levels fluctuate around the district: 


Diversity levels have been fluctuating among all high schools, with each school experiencing an increase and decrease over the past five years. RMHS has a unique pattern, switching between 25.2 and 26% non-white student population each year. 

This year, FCHS and PHS tie for most diverse, with 34% of their student bodies being students of color. Poudre attributes their high diversity to their geography. 

“Before Wellington opened, we had a boundary the size of Rhode Island,” Kathy Mackay, principal of Poudre High School, said. “Students are coming to us from Stove Prairie, Livermore, Laporte, all the way up the Wyoming border, which is a rural community. We’ve got the north college area, as well as the country club area. It creates a cool mix of a diverse student population.” 

Fossil Ridge High School is the least diverse, with only 21.5% minority population; however, they do have the most Asian students (6.3%). 

Poudre has the most Hispanic students (27.4%), while Fossil has the fewest (10.1%). Rocky has the most black students (2.5%), and Fossil has the fewest (0.5%). 

Schools by overall minority percentage (’22-’23) 

  1. Collins (34% – tie) 
  1. Poudre (34% – tie)
  2. Rocky (25.2%)
  3. Timnath (23.4%)
  4. Wellington (22.4%)
  5. Fossil (21.5%) 



The most gender balanced school is Timnath Middle-High, with a 50/50 split. Poudre has been increasing in male population steadily, and is currently 52.6% male, making them the most gender-unbalanced school. Despite this fact, Mackay, assured she doesn’t feel this imbalance within the school. 

“I wouldn’t have known,” Mackay said. 

Rocky is only 0.1% more balanced, but has been moving closer to equilibrium since the 2020-2021 school year. There are no high schools with a majority of female students. 

Schools by % Male (’22-’23) 

  1. Poudre (52.6%) 
  2. Rocky (52.5%) 
  3. Collins (52.1%)
  4. Fossil (51.2%)
  5. Wellington (51%)
  6. Timanth (50%) 


Program Usage varies among schools


504s are student plans for accessibility and equitability in learning environments. All main PSD high schools have been seeing increases in the percentage of students with 504 plans. In the 22-23 school year, 10.2% of Rocky students have a 504, whereas only 4.3% of Wellington students have one. 

Schools by % with a 504 (’22-’23) 

  1. Rocky (10.2%) 
  2. Timnath (8.3%) 
  3. Fossil (8%)
  4. Poudre (7.8%)
  5. Collins (7.5%)
  6. Wellington (4.3%) 


Gifted & Talented

Gifted and Talented students are identified as having an aptitude in one or more subjects, and therefore require additional programming to meet their high skill level  in their identified GT subject. Rocky—the only school to not experience a decline through one or more years—has been increasing in their percentage of GT students for the past 5 years. 

However, Fossil still has the highest percentage, with 25.7% of their student population identified as gifted and talented. 

This ties into diversity. Students within minority populations are often underrepresented in GT programs. With a lower rate of diversity, Fossil has a higher rate of students with gifted identification. 

Schools by percentage of students identified as GT (’22-’23)

  1. Fossil (25.7%)
  2. Collins (17.9%)
  3. Rocky (17.1%)
  4. Poudre (16.7%)
  5. Timnath (14.6%)
  6. Wellington (11.3%) 


Free/Reduced Lunch

The free and reduced lunch program is for students in low-income families who may not have access to nutritious food. Poudre has consistently had the highest percentage of students in the program, and maintains that spot this year. 38.4% of PHS students are eligible for free or reduced lunch. Fossil has had the lowest percentage of students in the program since 2018, and maintains this at a current 8.8%. 

Schools by percentage free/reduced lunch (’22-’23)

  1. Poudre (38.4%)
  2. Wellington (34%)
  3. Collins (32.2%)
  4. Rocky (26.9%)
  5. Timnath (14.2%) 
  6. Fossil (8.8%)


English Language Development 

The English Language Development program is for emerging bilingual students. Poudre has seen a 2% spike in program participants this year, putting their total at 6.5%. This is the highest percentage in PSD. The lowest is 0.7% at Fossil Ridge High School. 

Schools by percentage ELD (’22-’23) 

  1. Poudre (6.5%) 
  2. Collins (5%) 
  3. Timnath (2.9%)
  4. Wellington (1.9%)
  5. Rocky (0.9%) 
  6. Fossil (0.7%)