Mar 12, 2024 - Education

Greater share of San Antonio kids heading to private school

Data: Census Bureau; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: Census Bureau; Chart: Axios Visuals

An increasing share of San Antonio students are heading to private schools.

Why it matters: The changing school demographics throw into relief the challenges faced by public schools in San Antonio's urban core to attract and keep students.

The big picture: Gov. Greg Abbott is pushing to give some families taxpayer money for private education.

By the numbers: In 2010, 9.8% of San Antonio students attended private schools.

  • By 2022, the share was 13.7%, per the latest available U.S. Census Bureau data.
  • There are at least 82 private schools in Bexar County, according to the latest data from the National Center for Education Statistics.

State of play: Education officials have said a lack of affordable housing and declining birth rates in San Antonio's urban core have led to fewer families with school-aged children living in the attendance areas of districts like San Antonio, Edgewood, Harlandale and South San Antonio ISDs.

  • All have voted in the last year to close schools — in SAISD, as much as 16% of the district's campuses are closing this year or next.
  • There's also a growing charter school presence in San Antonio for public schools to compete against.

Yes, but: Even as San Antonio ISD has seen an almost 15% decrease in enrollment since 2016, it still educates more than 45,000 kids.

What they're saying: Spokespeople for San Antonio ISD did not respond to multiple requests for comment on how private school enrollment could affect the district's enrollment.

Zoom out: The trend in San Antonio comes as Texas generally has seen public school enrollment rebound.

  • In the 2022-23 school year, more than 5.5 million students were enrolled in Texas public schools, an increase of 1.7% from the 2021-22 school year, according to a Texas Education Agency report released in September.
  • Enrollment statewide increased between 2021-22 and 2022-23 for the largest racial/ethnic groups other than for white students, whose enrollment fell by 11,001 students, or 0.8%.

Between the lines: The growth in the share of San Antonio kids going to private schools comes as the city slowly becomes wealthier.

What we're watching: The trajectory of San Antonio public school enrollment in the coming years.

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