New federal data sheds new light on declining ISD coverage in Fort Worth.
Public schools nationwide lost more than 1 million students between fall 2019 and fall 2020, according to the US Department of Education. A Wall Street Journal analysis of major school districts found that Fort Worth’s ISD is among four systems that have lost about 10% of students in the past three years.
Other areas? New York, Los Angeles and Philadelphia.
From fall 2019 to fall 2021, ISD in Fort Worth lost 8,041 students, according to the Texas Education Agency.
Fort Worth ISD spokesperson Claudia Garibay declined to comment.
The recent decline in enrollment nationwide can be partly attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, school finance experts previously told the Fort Worth Report that the drop could also be due to lower birth rates, fewer immigrants, demographic shifts, an aging American population, and increased competition from charter schools.
School Board President Toby Jackson pointed out that Fort Worth ISD has more program options, such as career-focused classes, and why more families should enroll in the district than non-traditional public schools. However, she wants to find out why school enrollment has dropped in the district.
“It’s always important to look at the reasons people stay, the reasons people leave, and most importantly, listen to the voices of our students and parents and identify their needs to make sure we always meet those needs,” said Jackson. Fort Worth Report.
In 2016, Fort Worth ISD enrolled 87,428 students, but this number has been on a downward trend since then.
More than six years later, the district has lost nearly one in five students, according to Fort Worth Report analysis.
The district has been silent on enrollment for the current school year. However, TEA is expected to release official enrollment data for Fort Worth ISD and other counties this spring.
In August, Carmen Arrieta-Candelaria, ISD’s chief financial officer in Fort Worth, told the school board that enrollment figures were below her forecast of 72,981 students.
The administration has directed residents to file open records requests to find out enrollment numbers.
Enrollment is an important metric for school districts because it plays a role in determining how many districts receive state funding. Districts receive state dollars based on their average daily traffic. The reduction in enrollment means fewer dollars from the state.
According to Fort Worth ISD’s current budget, approximately 87.1% of scheduled students will attend classes each day. This would mean that on any given day there would be 63,764 students in the class.
Jacob Sanchez is a corporate journalist for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at [email protected] or via Twitter. At Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of board members and financial backers. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.