Public school enrollment nearly 660,000, Hispanics 12 percent of total
CapitolBeatOK Staff Report
According to annual enrollment numbers provided to the State Board of Education by each public school district and charter school site, Oklahoma’s Pre-Kindergarten through Grade 12 enrollment for the current school year is 659,615. That is 5,073 more students than were enrolled last school year, and 25,148 more students than just five years ago.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Sandy Garrett says, “Oklahoma’s trend of record-high public school enrollments continues. Moreover, we have 80,448 more students in Oklahoma public schools this fall than when I was first elected in 1990.”
2010-11 data shows that Oklahoma’s student population is 18 percent American Indian, 2 percent Asian, 10 percent Black, 12 percent Hispanic, 55 percent White, and 3 percent of two or more races.
Oklahoma’s voluntary Pre- Kindergarten classes remain popular among parents and school leaders. The state is now serving a projected 74 percent of four-year-old children in the state whose parents choose to send them to public Pre-K programs. More than 62 percent of those students are served in full-day Pre-K classes.
As part of the Achieving Classroom Excellence Act of 2005, all Oklahoma public schools are required to offer full-day kindergarten programs by the 2011- 2012 school year. “As with Pre-K, we see the clear preference of parents and school leaders driving enrollment in full-day Kindergarten classes,” Garrett explained. “Nearly 93 percent of all Kindergarten students now attend school all day, which will better prepare them for Grades 1-12 and post-secondary education as well.”
The trend of increasing numbers of public school students is evident in most districts. Oklahoma City Public Schools, which surpassed Tulsa Public Schools in enrollment last school year, added 419 students this year and remains the largest district. The top 10 districts in enrollment size rank in the same order as last year, and all but two (Lawton and Union) have larger student populations this year than last.
Conversely, all but two of the 10 smallest districts (Plainview and Milfay) lost students compared to the previous school year. Among these schools, only Boynton-Moton is a Pre-Kindergarten through 12th grade school district; the other nine are elementary school districts (also called dependent schools).