NEWS

Public school enrollment up across state, says OSDE

Nathan Thompsonnthompson@examiner-enterprise.com
Public school enrollment up across state, says OSDE

OKLAHOMA CITY — Growth continues across the state as state public schools recorded an enrollment increase of over 4,000 students, the Oklahoma State Department of Education said.

According to numbers provided by the OSDE, a total of 692,670 students were enrolled in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade at the start of the school year — an increase of 4,370 over the previous year. State schools have grown by 33,055 since 2010.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister said the trend for growth in schools will more than likely continue.

“Once again, Oklahoma schools are educating more students than ever,” Hofmeister said. “While it’s not a surprise, it is important to remember that statewide enrollment increases every year.”

Hofmeister said with the state budget cuts and teacher shortage, schools need to plan for providing more opportunities with less money and resources.

“Given the current fiscal reality and the teacher shortage crisis, many schools started 2015 ready to add additional students to their rosters with few new resources,” Hofmeister said. “We need to plan for this trend to continue in the future and do everything we can to minimize the negative impact on students.”

Among the 10 largest school districts in the state, Broken Arrow Public Schools had the largest growth year-to-year, by increasing 2.57 percent over 2014 numbers. Additional increases were also seen in the Edmond, Norman, Moore, Union and Oklahoma City Public School districts, the State Department of Education said. Decreases in enrollment were reported in four of the largest districts — Lawton, Mid-Del, Tulsa and Putnam City Public Schools.

Districts record enrollment every year on Oct. 1 and report the figures to the OSDE. Currently, Oklahoma has 516 public school districts and 1,795 school sites, including 14 charter schools not sponsored by a district.

In the area, South Coffeyville Public Schools had the largest growth, with an enrollment increase of 4.35 percent. South Coffeyville Superintendent Clem Haddox said that the growth in the district is not causing any danger of oversized classes. South Coffeyville is just south of the Kansas state line.

“We’re sitting pretty good from a capacity standpoint,” Haddox said. “We’ve had some good growth with new businesses in the area, and students who are moving from Kansas because of the economic conditions in Montgomery County. We’ve also had growth with the building of the new Cherokee Casino that opened this year.”

Haddox said he expects the growth to continue.

“The Cherokee Nation is in talks right now of building some housing in our area,” Haddox said. “If that happens, we will continue to see growth at our district, which we welcome.”

Osage Hills Public School, just west of Bartlesville, had the largest decrease in the area. Its student enrollment decreased by 15.38 percent. Osage Hills Superintendent Jeanne O’Daniel said the decrease was not a surprise.

“We asked some students who were on out-of-district transfers to go back to their original areas because of their academic performance,” O’Daniel said. “Because of our school performance, we were placed on an improvement plan from the state, and to answer that plan we declined some transfers because of academics. The decrease in student population will have an financial impact with our state aid, but that won’t happen until next year.”

According to O’Daniel, the school has approximately 150 students enrolled. That is down by around 30 students from the previous school year.

Bartlesville Public Schools grew by 0.49 percent, Dewey Public Schools grew by 0.48 percent and Caney Valley Public Schools added 23 students over last year — a growth of 2.99 percent. Copan Public Schools lost 4 students, which is a decrease of 1.82 percent over the previous school year.