By SEAN PHILIP COTTER | | Boston Herald
PUBLISHED: April 30, 2021 at 8:30 p.m. | UPDATED: April 30, 2021 at 8:31 p.m.
Enrollment in the city’s public school continues to plunge, the district told councilors as it deals with a 2,200-plus student decline particularly concentrated among Black and Hispanic kids and younger students.
Boston Public Schools brass, speaking during a budget hearing this week, said enrollment dropped by 2,286 kids this year, or 4.3% of the total district population.
This trend wasn’t helped by the coronavirus pandemic, but it wasn’t started by it, either — BPS has lost 4,612 students over the past three years. That’s an 8.3% decline in enrollment, meaning the district has lost one twelfth of its total enrollment since 2017.
This was most pronounced in the elementary grade, the district said, which accounted for 1,800 of the student who left this year — a mark that’s 6.3% of a decline in K-5 enrollment just between October 2019 and October 2020. Over the past three years, the number of kids in grades K-5 have decreased by 3,500 — a reduction of about an eighth.
BPS Chief Financial Officer Nate Kuder — during the virtual hearing sitting at his desk in front of a poster featuring a silhouette of wrestler Mr. T and the words “Don’t be a fool, stay in school” — said “broad demographic trends” that are the case in other cities and nationally are contributing to the decline.
“People are having less children, and they’re having them later in life,” Kuder told the councilors. “So as they continue to age in place, we’re not seeing as many students enrolled in Boston Public Schools because there aren’t as many students in the city.”
He said the district saw fewer families move to Boston in the past year than in previous ones, and that’s what largely drove the decline — more so than people moving out at higher rates.
Kuder said students of color this past year were more likely to go to schools seeing an enrollment decline. He said that’s been the case in past years, but “more pronounced” amid the pandemic. The number of Black students dropped by 6%, Hispanic students by 5%, Asian students by 3% and white students by 2%. Over the past three years, Black students have seen the sharpest declines in enrollment, with their numbers dropping 13%. Asians and Hispanics each has seen 8% drops, while white student enrollment has been essentially flat.
JOIN THE MOVEMENT! #iBELIEVE