SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - WTOC’s Investigates team got the latest official enrollment numbers for the Savannah-Chatham County Public School System and they found the numbers show a slight drop in students enrolled.
Enrollment is important to public schools because it determines state funding.
The school district calls the 6th Day Count a snapshot of student enrollment. What it shows is Kindergarten and Pre-K saw the biggest declines in enrollment, while other grades held steady or saw a slight increase.
Virtual learning dominated the start of the school year for Savannah-Chatham County Public Schools. A new student count reported by the district shows enrollment took a slight dip just two weeks into the new school year.
According to the district’s 6th Day Count, which wrapped on Sept. 11, the district has 633 fewer students or about a two percent drop in enrollment.
But a closer look at the numbers reveals a large majority of the students who reportedly left the district are in Kindergarten and Pre-K.
The big question: what is the data telling the district?
“The kindergarteners are some of our youngest learners," said Executive Director of Accountability, Assessment and Reporting Services for SCCPSS, Joe Austin. "You may have more anxiety and more reluctance amongst families to send children to school. That certainly can be a factor. It will be interesting to see the data throughout the year.”
A dip in enrollment is unusual for Pre-K and Kindergarten, which in recent years has trended upwards for the district. For example, Savannah-Chatham County Public Schools on average has about 1,652 Pre-K students enrolled in October.
But in the 6th Day Count taken last month, it shows a 22 percent decline in Pre-K students. While we’re making that comparison – Austin says it’s not comparable.
“We don’t have a previous 6th Day Count to compare it to. So the data is not really comparable.”
He called the 6th Day Count data simply a pulse check for the district, used for staff planning. He says he’s eager to see the results of the October enrollment count - underway right now.
It’s what the district will use for comparison and what the Georgia Department of Education will use to determine the district’s state funding.
“That data has been scrubbed, cleaned, validated and signed off by the superintendent," said Austin.
The October count underway right now is known as the Full-Time Equivalent count or FTE. It’s expected to be released at the end of the month.
The district is required to report an FTE count twice a year, once in March and again in October. The March FTE count earlier this year happened just before school went virtual. So the October count will be the first official count during the pandemic.
We will report those findings.