Local school enrollment holds steady as state reports drastic drop
Enrollment down 3.2 percent in the state.
JASPER/NEWTON COUNTY, Mo. – Enrollment in public schools across Missouri is down by 3.2 percent compared to last year, according to the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
That’s around 27 thousand students less than was seen last year, with the most pronounced drop being in preschool and kindergarten.
“What I would say would be, would lead to that trend is that continued concern and question on COVID,” speculates Kieth White, Superintendent at Diam0nd School District.
In our area, it’s a bit of a different story.
“Our enrollment has relatively been consistent,” says Sarah Mwangi with the Joplin School District.
Joplin saw their enrollment drop from 7639 to 7477. An around two percent drop.
“Something that really has helped us is we provide our own virtual school. So, families who may have not been sure if they wanted to send their child back this year, we had an option for them,” says Mwangi.
Neosho School District’s numbers are similar to last year as well. In K through 12, their enrollment is down by 75 students.
“The fact that across the state it’s typically been in the pre k and k classrooms, it does not surprise me. I think quite honestly, as a parent, if I’m going to home school my child, it certainly, content-wise, would be easier to teach kindergarten,” says Nathan Manley with the Neosho School District.
And in Diamond, they are actually seeing the opposite.
“To start the school year out, we were up around 50 kids from the end of the school year last year,” says Diamond Superintendent Kieth White. “So as the new superintendent, I’m really pleased with that.”
White says this year’s increase ends a three our four-year downward trend.
So while the state works to determine why overall enrollment numbers in the state are dropping, our local districts are going to keep serving the students they have, and making them feel good about the decision to stay in the public school system.
“[We’re going to] continue to show our community and the area the great teachers and great kids and things that we’re doing in our school district so we can draw more families and more kids to come and experience a great quality education,” says White.