After hitting an all-time high of 29,233 students last year, District 196 enrollment declined by 215 students (0.74 percent) on Oct. 1 this year, according to the official enrollment report presented to the School Board Oct. 12. This is the first time in seven years there are fewer students attending District 196 schools than the year before.
Compared to projections, enrollment was down 685 students (2.3 percent). The declines in actual and projected enrollments are consistent with school districts across the metro area, according to a recent survey by the Association of Metropolitan School Districts. The reason is family decisions to keep kindergarten-eligible students out of school this year or pursue education alternatives like private schools and homeschooling during the COVID-19 pandemic. At 1,764 students, kindergarten enrollment in District 196 is down 262 (13 percent) compared to projections and the number of resident students enrolled in private schools and homeschooling are both higher than last year.
The largest class in the district this year is grade 10, with 2,307 students, and the smallest is kindergarten. The breakdown by level shows that on Oct. 1, 2020, the district had:
- 11,921 elementary school students (grades K-5), an decrease of 469 students from last year;
- 6,567 middle school students (grades 6-8), a decrease of 54;
- 8,978 high school students (grades 9-12), an increase of 349;
- 1,070 students in center-based special education programs, an increase of 41, and
- 472 students in early childhood special education, a decrease of 82 students from last year.
Of the 29,008 total students enrolled this year, approximately 9,000 are in the 196 Digital Academy full-time distance learning option and the other 20,000 are participating in the district’s hybrid learning model, with two days of in-person learning at school each week.
Students of color represent 40 percent of total enrollment, up 2 percent from last year and nearly 5 percent higher than the state average last year. Sixty percent of students are white, 13.4 percent Black, 10.5 percent Hispanic, 8.4 percent Asian, 0.4 percent American Indian, 0.1 percent Pacific Islander and 7.2 percent reported they are more than one race.
Students who qualify to receive English Learner (EL) services represent 8 percent of total enrollment, the same as last year and slightly less than the state average.