MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Alabama Superintendent of education Eric Mackey says the state is dealing with a historic drop in student enrollment.
Leaders are now trying to account for more than 5,000 students who didn’t show up for in person or online school this year.
This information comes from initial estimates. Mackey says they’ll have the final enrollment numbers soon.
Mackey thinks some of it is a natural decline in enrollment that happens every year. There have been dips of 1,000 students before, but nothing like this.
Mackey believes the biggest reason is because of COVID-19.
The largest gap is in kindergarten enrollment, which is down by 5%. Kindergarten is not mandatory in Alabama, so Mackey thinks some are just opting out this year.
He says the state is trying to figure out where the rest of the decline is coming from.
“We think that most of them are just not in school this year. Some of them have definitely gone to private schools, but when I talk to folks in the private school community, their numbers are down largely too across the state, so we don’t think that that accommodates for all the loss," he said.
With students not enrolled, there is a major concern about not only learning gaps, but also money. Budgets and teacher allocations at schools are based on student enrollment.
Mackey says they are working with the governor’s office, state lawmakers, and their finance department to figure out a budget formula that would help them plan for next year but not be impacted because of this dip in enrollment.