Miami-Dade Public Schools enrollment falling
Enrollment in Miami Dade Public Schools has slightly but steadily declined for the past five years, from 355,666 in 2015 to 347,108 this year. These counts are taken at the first day of school, but school sources say not all students begin classes that day.
Enrollment in some categories of programs are up. Charter schools enrolled 70,962 this year, as opposed to 58,743 in 2015. There’s also a bump in the number of the youngest students; 6,555 children were enrolled in 2015, but this year’s enrollment is 7,852.
“As indicated by the data, district-wide enrollment has slightly declined every year,” said Verena Cabrera, administrative director for the school system’s federal and state compliance office, via email. “When comparing from August 2015 to August 2019, there is a 2.47% decline.”
Enrollment by region has slightly declined every year similar to the district overall, but some areas of the county lost enrollees at a more dramatic rate as well, she added.
“When comparing from August 2015 to August 2019, there is an 8.3% decline for the North Region, a 7.2% decline for the Central Region, and a 9.1% decline for the South Region,” she said. “Regarding charter school enrollment, the number of students enrolled at a charter school has increased by 12,219 students when comparing from August 2015 to August 2019. The number of pre-kindergarten students has increased by 1,297 students when comparing from August 2015 to August 2019.”
“Various reasons may account for this enrollment decline,” said John Schuster, spokesman for the school district. “Tighter immigration standards following Sept. 11, 2001, and also during the past few years have resulted in fewer new, foreign-born students enrolling; in an average year, 15,000 new, foreign-born students enrolled, but Sept. 11 and recent immigration tightening reduced that average figure greatly.
“Also, birth rates began to decrease around 2007-2008, when the great recession set in. Children born in those years would now be 10 years old, but they are fewer in our schools.”
School bells ring earlier in the fall now, which may complicate the effort to get an accurate count, he added.
“Many families withhold their children from classes until after Labor Day; you may remember as a child that in many places, school didn’t start until [then]. Families may do this because of vacations.”
The indications aren’t all gloomy, he said. “On the other hand, we graduated 22,000 high school seniors this year, more than ever before!”