Enrollment stabilizing for Detroit’s public schools

Candice Williams
The Detroit News

Student enrollment is stabilizing at Detroit Public Schools Community District according to preliminary Count Day figures released Friday.

Conservative estimates from fall count day, which took place Wednesday, range from 45,265-45,365, district officials said. That’s about 1 percent shy of the district’s goal of 45,511.

“We are pleased with our continued progress in stabilizing enrollment, while focusing on our goal of providing an excellent education for our students,” Alycia Meriweather, interim superintendent, Detroit Public Schools Community District wrote in a release Friday. “This is a true Fresh Start for DPSCD, and our enrollment trends show that parents are excited about our initiatives and showing their faith by staying in and enrolling in our schools.”

On Count Day, every public schools in Michigan tallies their student enrollment. There is one in the fall and another in the spring. A decrease in students could mean a loss of $7,552 per pupil in state aid for the district.

Enrollment figures from Wednesday are not expected to be certified until November, added Chrystal Wilson, spokeswoman for the district.

The rapid decline in student enrollment slowed from a decrease of 23 percent in 2013 to 5 percent in 2014, 3 percent in 2015 and 2 percent in 2016, according to an annual report the district released in the spring. Student enrollment was 51,300 in 2013, 48,500 in 2014, 47,200 in 2015 and 46,300 in 2016, the report notes.

The district attributes several programs for encouraging retention including free early childhood Montessori programs in three schools, additional Science and Technology interpreted through Engineering and the Arts instruction in a number of schools and more honors and foreign language immersion courses.

“Each year we are raising the bar in terms of what we offer our students,” Meriweather said. “We want to ensure our families remain with us to reap the benefits of what we provide.”

Detroit Federation of Teachers interim president Ivy Bailey said Friday if enrollment decline is starting to level off that could mean overcrowded classrooms for some schools.

“The district needs to ramp up hiring efforts for qualified teachers,” she said. “We don’t want overcrowded classrooms. We want our teachers to be able to function in the classroom.”

Bailey said the fact that parents are keeping their students enrolled shows they are confident in the teachers and the district.

“They’re starting to feel that maybe Detroit Public Schools is coming back,” she said. “I give a lot of that credit to teachers. Regardless of the sickouts people see that the teachers care about these students... We feel our kids deserve to be in schools that are well lit, clean, with technology.”

cwilliams@detroitnews.com

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