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School data aggregator finds Oklahoma City Public Schools enrollment loss among highest in nation

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A national group found that Oklahoma City Public Schools had the highest drop in public school enrollment in the country among urban districts between last year and this year.

The education data aggregator Burbio has made a name for itself by comparing numbers from around the country related to COVID-19 closures, pandemic relief spending and other topics.

The site recently published an enrollment trends report that shows Oklahoma City Public Schools had the largest percentage decrease in enrollment between this school year and the previous one at a 14.1 percent drop. Burbio describes urban districts as ones that have more than 20,000 students.

But that doesn’t capture the full picture.

Oklahoma actually changed how it counts enrollment, taking charter schools out of district totals.

  • OKCPS 21-22 enrollment: 32,086
  • OKCPS 20-21 enrollment with charters: 37,344
  • OKCPS 20-21 enrollment without charters: 34,849

In the state’s official totals charter school students sponsored by OKCPS were included in totals for last school year, but not this school year. So Burbio’s numbers are accurate.

But when comparing just kids enrolled at traditional OKCPS schools, the fall is actually 7.9 percent. That would put OKCPS at the No. 3 spot for enrollment loss in the country, rather than at the top. That’s still a significant loss that continues a long-term loss trend in the district.

Burbio’s numbers also show that smaller, suburban districts as defined by the group as having more than 5,000 students but fewer than 20,000 made some significant gains in Oklahoma. Mid-Del, Edmond and Bixby Public Schools all were in the top 15 for growth in that category.

“This is just a snapshot of wide-ranging enrollment shifts occurring across the country and within individual states,” The report’s authors wrote. “We note, for example, the intra-state district movement within Oklahoma and Texas evidenced from the charts.”

Robby Korth joined KOSU as its news director in November 2022.
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