Local school districts looking to boost early grade enrollments after low numbers across state and country

Updated: Apr. 13, 2021 at 8:57 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - Local school districts are trying to boost enrollment numbers for next school year, saying they had lower enrollment numbers due to COVID this year than years past, just like other schools across the country, emphasizing lower numbers in younger children.

The Texas Education Agency reported three percent fewer students were enrolled in public schools this past October compared to October 2019 with more than half that reduction from students in early education, Pre-K, and Kindergarten students-- all of which are not mandatory in Texas.

The TEA added that early education and Pre-K classrooms students reduced by 22 percent each.

Frenship has reported dropping numbers of 334 Pre-K students in October 2019 to 295 in October 2020 and 756 Kindergarten students in October 2019 to 725 in October 2020.

Michelle Elliott, the Director for Curriculum and Instruction at Frenship ISD attributes those numbers to the pandemic and families choosing to stay at home. Elliott added, normally, numbers increase in Frenship ISD’s school district.

“And so we typically see an increase of 30 students for Pre-K and Kindergarten are around 30 or 40 just because we’re a fast growth school district. So it is around 60 or 70 students per grade level. So of course, we’re concerned. We want our students present and in our classrooms, but we expect them to come back next year.”

The district still follows CDC safety guidelines and says those are working because they currently have zero active cases in students and staff.

“But there’s a huge social emotional component around just preparing students to be at school, to socialize, make friends, to just learn to be independent, and some of those components. Then, we also have a huge impact on just language development. And so our focus is on expressive and receptive skills. And so we really like to develop those skills in our Pre-K and Kindergarten students before they enter first through 12th grade curriculum so heavily.”

Lubbock Independent School District is also experiencing a drop in enrollment numbers in younger children.

“I think a lot of parents just decided to wait this year out with the virus. And so we are doing a lot to really promote our pre k and kindergarten programs,” said Dr. Kathy Rollo, LISD’s Superintendent.

Rollo said the school district lost 400 students between Pre-K and Kindergarten classrooms from last school year to this school year.

“It’s really learning those social emotional control skills. It’s the biggest thing that Pre-K and Kindergarten provide our children.”

“The staff members who want to get vaccinated in large part had the opportunity to be vaccinated. So the risk is very, very low in our schools right now. And we hope that just continues to improve as we move into next school year.”

Frenship ISD will be having their new student roundup for younger-aged children May 5. LISD just wrapped up a successful enrollment event last week. Both districts allow for enrollment up until the first day of school.

For more information about enrollment, visit your child’s school district’s website.

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