Detroit— Detroit Public Schools’ enrollment slide is continuing this year, yet school officials are claiming success after early and unofficial data show the district lost fewer students than expected.
According to attendance on the state’s Count Day last week and updated late Monday, DPS has 48,610 students in its K-12 buildings. That’s 2,550 students more than the district’s hired demographer prediction of 46,070 for the new year.
The figure still represents an enrollment loss from last year, when DPS had 51,319 students and further proof of a continued enrollment slide for the state’s largest school district, which has lost 250,000 students since the 1960s.
It also falls short of the 5,000 new students DPS said it would attract and that school leaders used as the basis for the 2013-14 budget.
Over the summer, DPS conducted a massive enrollment campaign that included door-to-door recruitment and new bus routes outside the city,
Still, DPS spokesman Steve Wasko remained upbeat.
“This occurred at a time when there are an estimated 2,175 fewer school-age children in the city than one year ago, as well as nine new and 11 expanding charter schools,” Wasko said. “This is actually the first time in many years that DPS has not only met, but also exceeded demographer enrollment prediction.”
If DPS’ student count comes in lower than what it budgeted, the district will likely have to cut costs because it will not get as much state aid as it planned.
The district has until Nov. 6 to submit Count Day data to Wayne County’s intermediate school district. Wasko said school officials will continue to account for students who may not have been in attendance on Count Day.
DPS also anticipates being able to receive proportional state funding for students who come to the district after Count Day.
Wasko said that is important, given the large number of students who have historically transferred to DPS after Count Day. During October last year, a net 2,000 students came to DPS.
Keith Johnson, president of the Detroit Federation of Teachers, said the enrollment numbers mean DPS still has work to do.
“It’s a shallow victory. It just shows we have to continue to do a better job of giving parents a reason to put their children in Detroit Public Schools,” he said. “The fact that we didn’t lose as many as we thought — there is some weight to that.”