Tuesday, September 14, 1999

Public school enrollment down

1,600 fewer attend classes in city; kindergarten, 8th grade lose most

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Enrollment fell this year by about 1,600 students in Cincinnati Public Schools, a 4 percent drop since last year, according to the district's preliminary counts.

        Administrators had projected they would lose about 500 students — excluding those who leave for charter or voucher schools — from last year's 47,200 students.

        A declining population of school-age children in the city caused a drop of 700 students last year, Superintendent Steven Adamowski said.

        Mr. Adamowski emphasized that the preliminary count, done Sept. 10, probably will change when administrators officially tally enrollment for the Ohio Department of Education. That count will be done the first week of October and is the figure upon which state funding is based.

        Charter schools and voucher programs have taken a big bite out of the district's enrollment, Mr. Adamowski said.

        About 1,500 students attend the city's five charter schools this fall; most transferred from district schools. Hundreds of parents this year also received vouchers from the privately funded HOPE Scholarship program, and many of their children chose private schools.

        Chase, Dater, Hays, Heberle and Rothenberg schools had the biggest drops — more than 100 students left each.

        The biggest decreases districtwide came in kindergarten, down 674 students, and eighth grade, down 368.

        Backlogged record-keeping and late registrations could account for the kindergarten drop, Mr. Adamowski said. And eighth grade traditionally has seen bigger decreases than other grades, as students transfer to private schools for high school.

        School board member Harriet Russell said the preliminary count left her with more questions than answers. She directed administrators to analyze the number of district students who left for charter schools, broken down by school and ZIP code.

        “My first concern is the impact charter schools are having on the district,” Ms. Russell said.


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