Charter School Enrollment Up
Public charter school enrollment continues its steady growth, increasing nine percent over last year, according to an unaudited count for the 2009-2010 academic year, officials announced Wednesday.
The D.C. Public Charter School Board said the student population, in 60 schools across 90 campuses, is 27,953, just shy of the projected 28,066.
"With this increase, charter schools continue to be an attractive option for parents in the District of Columbia," said board chairman Tom Nida said in a statement.
Charters, which are publicly financed but independently operated, have boomed in the District over the last decade. In 2003, enrollment stood at 13,700.
Both public charter and traditional public schools take their official enrollment counts in October. The numbers are then audited by a private accounting firm that verifies residency and other student data.
DCPS didn't respond to questions Wednesday about the status of its October count. Most recent word was a September 17 census that showed 45,120, a small but potentially historic gain after years of decline. Audited enrollment at the end of the 2008-09 school year was 44,681. Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee had forecast modest growth during this spring's budget deliberations, but drew heat from the D.C. Council, which didn't buy the prediction because of the downward trend. Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray's staff estimated 41,541.
Gray's people didn't challenge the charter projection, assuming that much of the charter growth would come at the expense of traditional public schools.
Should DCPS hold on to its gains through the audit, the council will need to revisit its assumptions about enrollment patterns in the District.
UPDATE: DCPS spokeswoman Jennifer Calloway says the school system's October count is 45,772.
October 14, 2009; 6:19 PM ET
Categories: Bill Turque , Education
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