NYC Public Schools Lost 43,000 Students This Year

NYC Public Schools Lost 43,000 Students This Year
A school bus in a file photo. (Paul J. Richards/AFP via Getty Images)
Bill Pan

New York City’s K-12 public schools have seen a 4 percent decline this school year, with about 43,000 students pulling out of the system, according to preliminary data released by the city’s education department.

The preliminary data, released Wednesday, suggests that the sharpest decline of New York City’s enrollment occurred in non-mandatory early childhood grades. Enrollment for 3-K and pre-K students has so far dropped 8 percent and 13 percent, respectively.

While NYC Public Schools remains the nation’s largest public school district, its total enrollment was brought down to 960,000 compared to 1.1 million students in the 2018-19 school year.

According to education officials, there has been a decline in enrollment every year since 2016, but this year’s particularly sharp decline can be attributed to the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic. They also pointed to the shrinking birth rate in the city.

The enrollment loss echoes a national trend, the officials said. Enrollment fell in all of the nation’s 10 biggest school districts this year, ranging from 2 percent to 8 percent losses.

Although enrollment largely determines the amount of funding and state aid each school is entitled to, education officials said it’s too soon to tell how it will affect how much money goes to the city’s public schools next year, given that state budget is still in flux.

“Given the current circumstances of pandemic it is no surprise that we are seeing greater fluctuations in enrollment this year,” Katie O'Hanlon, a spokesperson for the Department of Education, said in a statement. “However, no school district has stabilized its school system the way we have, which means that we can and will continue to offer the gold standard in health, safety, and learning in a completely transformed educational environment to our students.”

The report comes as New York state’s population continues to decline, more than any state in the United States.

The data released last December by the Census Bureau estimated New York’s population to be at 19.5 million as of July 1, 2019, indicating that there were 126,300 fewer people compared to the prior year. Ranking just ahead of New York in 2019-20 was Illinois, with a population drop of about 79,000.

Meanwhile, Texas and Florida were the nation’s biggest leaders in population growth, with up about 374,000 and 241,000 people for the period. In terms of percentage growth, Idaho (2.1 percent), Arizona (1.8 percent), Nevada, and Utah (1.5 percent) are the fastest growers.