Parents and students arrive at Willa Cather Elementary School, 2908 W. Washington Blvd. in East Garfield Park, for the first day of school for Chicago Public Schools, Monday morning, Aug. 22, 2022.
Enrollment in Chicago Public Schools has fallen for the 11th consecutive year, leaving extremely small schools with dwindling student populations bracing for continued funding cuts.
Long the nation’s third-largest public school system, CPS lost around 9,000 children this year, bringing the district total to about 321,000 pre-K to 12th-grade students, according to preliminary data published on CPS’ website this month. This data includes both district-run and charter schools.
Chicago has lost nearly 83,000 public school students over the past decade, including about a 3% decline in each of the past seven years. The steady drop means CPS could lose its title as the third-largest district to Miami-Dade County Public Schools in Florida, which saw its enrollment increase to 325,000.
This drop, though significant, is not as steep as the 15,000-student decline some experts had predicted as the high range of what CPS could lose this fall.
But it’s still painful for many schools, which are primarily funded on a per-pupil basis. One school in Brighton Park on the Southwest Side that saw declining enrollment last year had to forgo an assistant principal this year. Another always had two kindergarten classes, but this year the budget and enrollment couldn’t support two classes, said Patrick Brosnan, executive director of the Brighton Park Neighborhood Council.
“The population makes it very complicated to program the school and then the funding just makes it almost impossible,” Brosnan said. “So ultimately you have students that are losing out on a high-quality education.”
Student demographics appear largely unchanged at CPS this year. There has been a slight decrease in the share of Black children and a tiny increase in the share of white students, but Black and Hispanic students still make up over 82% of enrollment. Hispanic students are the largest population — 46.5% of the district.
CPS has not released its official enrollment figures, tallied on the 20th day of school each year. That milestone passed on Monday, but officials would not confirm the preliminary figures this week, saying the district’s data team is still finalizing and analyzing the records. In the past, CPS has released its official tally weeks after the 20th day in October.
“The Sun-Times/WBEZ figure regarding district preliminary enrollment data is not representative of the 20th day enrollment population,” CPS spokeswoman Mary Fergus said in a statement, adding that CPS only begins its analysis of student enrollment after the 20th day has passed because enrollment shifts during the first few weeks of school.
“Given this [20th day] enrollment file serves as the basis for our annual enrollment counts and is utilized in many ways, it’s essential that we spend the time ensuring the district’s and each school’s final enrollment number is as accurate as possible,” she said.
The preliminary enrollment figures pulled from on the 20th day by the Sun-Times and WBEZ come from a tally …read more
Source:: Chicago Sun Times
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