Enrollment change varies

Nathan Thompson

Osage County public schools saw overall enrollment numbers grow slightly for the current school year, with much of the growth coming from school districts that border Kay County and Washington County, numbers from the Oklahoma State Department of Education show.

The OSDE released enrollment numbers for the entire state of Oklahoma on Jan. 18. While Osage County’s public school enrollment increased by a modest 36 students for the 2016-2017 school year, six school districts — including Pawhuska Public Schools — saw decreases when compared to the 2015-2016 school year.

According to the report from the OSDE, Pawhuska had 793 students enrolled as of Oct. 1. For the same time in 2015, Pawhuska Public Schools had 813 students in class. With 20 fewer students for the current school year, Pawhuska’s enrollment declined 2.46 percent.

The largest overall decline was at Avant Public School in the southeastern section of the county. The small dependent elementary school reported having 65 students enrolled as of Oct. 1. Compared to last year, the school had 78 students — a decrease of 16.67 percent.

Bowring School, Barnsdall Public Schools, Hominy Public Schools and Prue Public Schools also had slight enrollment decreases for the 2016-2017 school year compared to the previous year, the report showed.

Large school growth was shown in two school districts in Osage County — one near the Kay County border and the Washington County border.

According to the report from the OSDE, McCord Public Schools — across the Arkansas River from Ponca City — had the largest growth of any school district in the county. McCord’s enrollment increased by 54 students in 2016 — an 18.95 percent gain from 2015.

Osage Hills Public School, a dependent elementary school just west of Bartlesville in Osage County grew by 6.49 percent. In 2016, the school reported 164 students enrolled, compared to 154 in 2015, the report showed.

Growth was also reported at Anderson Public School, Shidler Public Schools, Woodland Public Schools and Wynona Public Schools.

Across the state, Oklahoma public schools continued to rise in 2016, increasing by more than 1,000 from the previous year.

The Oklahoma State Department of Education reported a total of 693,710 students were enrolled in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade at the start of the school year, an increase of 1,040 over the 2015 total of 692,670 and 27,560 more than in 2011.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister said the increase in enrollment does not come as a surprise.

“Oklahoma schools are educating more students than ever before,” she said. “Over the past decade, student enrollment has risen steadily, as have funding challenges. We must do everything we can to maximize our resources in order to serve a growing and increasingly diverse group of Oklahoma schoolchildren.”

Districts record enrollment every year on Oct. 1 and report the figures to the Oklahoma State Department of Education. Currently, Oklahoma has 513 public school districts and 1,787 school sites, including 13 charter schools not sponsored by a district.