Public school enrollment shows some shifts

01/14/2014 10:39 PM

01/14/2014 10:39 PM

A boost in the economy. Affordable housing opportunities. Hoped-for greener education pastures.

All of these may have contributed to some larger-than-usual migrations of area school district enrollments for the 2013-2014 school year.

Some of the districts that grew included Kansas City, Kan., Olathe, North Kansas City, Liberty, Grandview and Independence.

One district showed a major drop: Kansas City Public Schools.

On the county level, Johnson County continued a longstanding trend of leading in enrollment growth. Wyandotte County grew the second most, followed by Clay County.

Several public charter schools expanded in Kansas City, increasing their overall K-12 enrollment by 586, from 9,577 to 10,163.

But the increase was connected to only a portion of Kansas City Public Schools’ decline, which fell by 1,591 to 14,118, not including pre-school.

The district significantly improved its report card score with the state, but has remained unaccredited since 2012. The administration believes it has been losing many families in advance of their children entering middle school grades because many were uncomfortable that middle school grades have been kept in the high schools.

But that is changing next year when the district reopens two middle schools.

In Wyandotte County, Kansas City, Kan., grew by 762 students, the largest increase among area districts. District Chief of Staff David Smith figured that economic and housing factors played a role.

“But we would like to think that the work we are doing to educate kids is also a contributing factor,” he said.

Several area districts have seen their state scorecards rise in recent years, including Grandview, which may also be prompting some of their growth, Superintendent Ralph Teran said.

“Potential customers from the outside are viewing us more favorably than in the past,” he said.

Homes are coming up for sale, and families with children are moving in, said Independence spokeswoman Nancy Lewis.

“We’re watching that kind of growth in neighborhoods all over the district,” she said.

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