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D.C. public schools enrollments continue to climb

Washington Post
October 8, 2014

By Michael Alison Chandler

Enrollment is up in both D.C. charter and traditional public schools this year, according to unofficial numbers released this week by officials from the D.C. Public Charter School Board and D.C. Public Schools.

There were 38,302 students enrolled in public charter schools and 47,651 in D.C. Public Schools, based on an annual count conducted this week by the Office of the State Superintendent for Education. That’s a nearly 3 percent increase for the public school system, and a little more than 3 percent for the charter schools. An audited report of enrollment is due early next year.

D.C. public school enrollment has been in steady decline since the 1960s, when there were about 150,000 public school students in the city.

In 1995, enrollment had dropped just shy of 80,000 students when the D.C. School Reform Act was passed by Congress, paving the way for charter schools to open in the District. Since then, charter schools have grown rapidly, as traditional public schools have mostly continued to decline. About 44 percent of public school students in the city attend charter schools now, a number that is unchanged from last year.

In the past few years, both charter and traditional schools have seen enrollments increase.

“We are happy to have 2,000 new charter school families, and happy to see that more parents are coming back to public schools overall,” said Theola DeBose, a spokeswoman for the D.C. Public Charter School Board.

Kaya Henderson celebrated the news on Twitter Tuesday as a positive sign for the school district.