Chicago Public Schools Enrollment Rate Continues to Drop

Courtesy of Greg Goebel (Flickr CC0)

Enrollment Is Becoming a Problem For CPS

The enrollment rate of Chicago Public Schools has been going down. This caused CPS to no longer be the nation’s third-largest school district.

Right now there are around 320,000 students attending the city’s public schools. According to the enrollment count, this is 9,000 fewer pupils than last year. This is a decrease of more than 80,000 students from 10 years ago. That’s when local officials closed 50 schools due to poor enrolment. It is a decrease of more than 115,000 pupils from 20 years ago.

Important concerns regarding the future of the public school system and the city as a whole are raised by the startling size reduction. At the board meeting, CPS CEO Pedro Martinez stated that the enrollment figures “represent numerous changes, including lower birth rates.” Adding “they also offer us a chance to assess our processes and to ensure that we’re providing the greatest programming and services to our students.”

Miami-Dade County Public Schools surpassed CPS as the third-largest school district in the country. According to a district official, the Florida school system had 324,961 students enrolled as of September 1. With little over 305,000 students enrolled, Clark County in Nevada continues to be the fifth-largest school district. New York City Public Schools is the largest with more than 950,000 students enrolled in the autumn of 2017, followed by Los Angeles Unified School District with more than 430,000 pupils.

Affect of the Pandemic

More than 33,000 kids have left the district since the fall of 2020 as a result of the pandemic, which hastened the district’s long-term enrollment decrease.

Public schools across the nation are under pressure as a result of the pandemic-related closures and remote learning. The causes of Chicago’s declines, though, are numerous and occasionally unclear, according to a presentation made to school board members on Wednesday.

Courtesy of Kevin Wong (Flickr CC0)

The majority of children who left Chicago schools this year — for reasons other than graduating — went to private schools or schools outside the city, but both of those transitions occurred less often than they did the previous year. During the pandemic, more pupils switched to homeschooling, but this year, those numbers decreased once more.

The number of kids who are designated dropouts and those who merely fail to show up for class has increased, according to district authorities.

Racial Demographics

The racial demographics haven’t changed much while the district’s size has shrunk. Although the majority of students in Chicago schools are still Latino and Black, there are now an increasing number of white and Asian American children. All groups, though, are experiencing reductions.

The primarily Latino neighborhoods of Pilsen and Little Village were among those in the city where losses were greater than in other areas, according to district officials.

The district’s budget has increased from $5 billion a decade ago to $9.4 billion despite declining enrolment. Help has come from a surge of pandemic recovery cash as well as a new state financing structure. In a moment of extreme need, CPS is able to spend more money per pupil.

Budget cuts did, nevertheless, affect schools this spring. Chicago Public Schools education-based funding approach, which union officials, activists, and parents claim eventually leads to decreased enrollment and the closing of additional schools, has come under fire.

A crucial concern for the current government is whether budgets will — and even can — continue to be tied so closely to enrollment in light of the moratorium on school closures until 2025.

Hopefully, there is a way to resolve all the problems that reside with Chicago Public Schools.

Written by Esteban Ruiz


ChalkBeat Chicago: Chicago Public Schools no longer nation’s third-largest district

ChalkBeat Chicago: Chicago school board moves ahead with plans for new high school, despite enrollment drops

Top and Featured Image Courtesy of Greg Goebel’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image Courtesy of Kevin Wong’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License

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