Nov 14, 2023 - News

Scoop: AISD expects another dip in enrollment

Data: AISD Department of Student Enrollment and Attendance; Chart: Axios Visuals

Austin ISD expects to see enrollment numbers dip again — even as the city's population booms.

Why it matters: Fewer students means less money for the district, per state formulas, and AISD has yet to rebound since the pandemic supercharged the downward trend.

By the numbers: A formal snapshot of enrollment numbers won't be submitted until January, but AISD's Department of Student Enrollment expects the figure to be around 73,000 for the 2023-2024 school year, according to figures provided to Axios.

  • That would represent at least a 0.5% drop in enrollment from the previous year, and a more than 9.7% decrease from pre-pandemic enrollment of 80,911 students in the 2019-20 school year.
  • Meanwhile, the latest population estimates by the U.S. Census Bureau placed Austin among the country's top 10 largest cities for the first time this year.

Flashback: AISD shuttered four elementary campuses after the 2019-2020 school year amid declining enrollment.

What they're saying: "The district is not discussing any school closures at this time," Austin school district spokesperson Nayeli Santoyo Flores told Axios.

Details: Elementary enrollment has decreased by about 400 students from last year to this year and middle school has decreased by about 800 students, according to district officials.

  • Meanwhile, high school enrollment has increased by about 600 students.
  • Half of the district's 116 campuses are enrolled under 70% of their operational capacity, which the district defines as the number of students that could fit in an optimal way for teaching and learning.

Between the lines: The rising cost of living has driven people with kids to surrounding counties.

  • The median home price within the city of Austin is $536,028 and $525,000 for Travis County, according to the Austin Board of Realtors' September report.
  • The median price is $426,752 in Williamson County, $400,000 in Hays, $340,000 in Bastrop and $289,330 in Caldwell.

Of note: Georgetown in Williamson County saw the fastest pace of population growth in the country, according to Census data, at a rate of 14.4%.

Zoom out: Widespread teacher and staff shortages during the pandemic exacerbated enrollment issues across the country.

  • Frustrated parents pulled kids out of traditional public schools, while private and charter schools gained students.
  • Major metropolitan areas were hit the hardest.

The bottom line: The district loses $6,160 with each fewer student enrolled, per AISD officials.

What we're watching: if a new, user-friendly AISD enrollment system helps stanch the flow.

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