Coming back from Katrina: An incomplete recovery

More than 3½ years after Hurricane Katrina devastated much of the New Orleans area, school districts still are working to recover. Many of those displaced by the hurricane and the subsequent flooding have not returned.

The two districts hardest hit in terms of lost enrollment after the hurricane continue to report student numbers significantly below 2004-05 levels, the last full year before Katrina hit in August 2005. Orleans Parish reported 35,955 students in October 2008, 45.8 percent less than the 66,372 count in 2004-05. The St. Bernard Parish district had 4,684 students in October 2008, 47.2 percent less than the 8,872 reported in 2004-05. Jefferson Parish's October 2008 enrollment is down 14.8 percent compared with 2004-05, and Plaquemines Parish reports a 24 percent drop.

Districts such as St. John and St. Charles parishes that saw enrollment gains immediately after Katrina — in most cases from students displaced by the flooding — have seen those numbers return to about where they were in 2004-05.

The Orleans Parish recovery is more complicated because of the state's takeover of most of the district's education structure. The Greater New Orleans Community Data Center says that as of Dec. 31, 2008, Orleans Parish had 88 public schools open: 33 are operated by the state's Recovery District; five are run by the Orleans Parish board; 34 are charter schools under the auspices of the Recovery District; 14 are charter schools under the auspices of the Orleans Parish board, and two are independent charter schools.

Coming back from Katrina

Student enrollment in New Orleans-area school districts:

  Jefferson Orleans Plaquemines St. Bernard St. Charles St. John St. Tammany
2004-05 51,666 66,372 5,952 8,872 9,797 6,559 36,169
Jan 2006 41,750 6,242 3,563 955 9,945 6,923 34,845
Oct 2008 44,018 35,955 4,521 4,684 9,606 6,410 35,878

Return to the main story, "Rebounding from Tragedy".

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