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New York City says public school enrollment has dropped by 43,000

Jan. 27, 2021
The most sizable enrollment declines were concentrated among the youngest students.

The number of students in New York City public schools has fallen sharply this year, declining 4%, or about 43,000, according to city and state data.

Chalkbeat New York reports that the city's public schools lost more students this year than the previous 14 years combined. Enrollment now stands at roughly 960,000, the city’s preliminary figures released Wednesday show.

Although many schools have seen their rosters shrink, the biggest losses were concentrated among the city’s youngest students. Enrollment in 3-K programs fell by 8%, and pre-K programs for 4-year-olds fell by 13%, according to the data. In kindergarten, which is when education becomes compulsory in New York City, enrollment fell 9%.

The declines matter because school budgets are tied to how many students enroll.

Elementary schools have been among the hardest hit, losing 6% of overall enrollment, city figures showed, which may point to the challenge of remote learning for the city’s youngest students. By contrast, middle schools saw a modest decline, and high school enrollment remained flat.

Transfer schools — which serve older students who are not on track to graduate — saw steep drops, with more than half of the roughly 50 district transfer schools losing more than 10% of their rosters, according to the state data.

A network of high schools that serve recent immigrants have also reported concerning enrollment declines.

At the other end of the spectrum, a few dozen schools that serve wealthier families — where 20% or fewer students are low-income — showed big losses—roughly 10%.

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