Last year’s historic uptick in DCPS enrollment--the first in four decades--might be short-lived. Officials said late Friday that this year’s unaudited October count came in at 46,191--that’s down 419 students, about six-tenths of a percent-- from last fall’s 46,515. That was when the District received a 1.6 percent bump over 2009.
The city’s public charter schools continued their robust growth. The Public Charter School Board reported unaudited enrollment at 32,009--an 8.2 percent boost over last October’s 29,557.
All of these numbers now go to an outside auditor, retained by the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE), who verifies them for residency and other requirements. The audited figures, available early next year, are usually a bit lower.
DCPS spokesman Fred Lewis said nearly all of the decline was concentrated at four schools that encountered what he called “bad press” in 2010-11: Dunbar High School, Hardy Middle School, Noyes Education Campus and Thomson Elementary. Dunbar’s New York-based management group, Friends of Bedford, was dismissed by Chancellor Kaya Henderson in late 2010 for poor performance. Hardy was roiled by leadership changes, Noyes by cheating allegations and Thomson when students were sickened by a classmate who brought cocaine to class.
Per usual, the District declined to release detailed, school-by-school numbers until after the audit. Overall, Lewis said, enrollment “continues to be stable” after years of steep decline. Preschool and pre-K enrollment continues to increase, and ninth grade experienced a boost this year, bolstered by strong showings at newly modernized Eastern, Woodson and Wilson high schools.
The numbers have apparently been available for at least a couple of weeks. At the urging of a source, I asked DCPS on Friday afternoon. After I received them I contacted D.C. Public Charter School Board, where an exasperated official said that they were under orders from Mayor Vincent C. Gray’s office to sit on them until a joint DCPS-charter announcement could be arranged. When she learned that DCPS had coughed theirs up, she released the charter count.