Districts look ahead to fall, already tracking enrollment numbers

Updated: Jun. 16, 2021 at 10:00 AM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - School districts across the state are closely monitoring enrollment numbers for the upcoming school year after a historic dip in enrollment this year. Leaders are keeping a close eye on kindergarten and first grade student enrollment because districts could see some major shifts at those grade levels.

Early estimates from the state indicated close to 10,000 students didn’t enroll in school. The majority of missing students were kindergarteners. While many districts worked to identify missing students and get students enrolled, kindergarten is not a mandatory grade in the state.

Jefferson County Schools started early enrollment in April and has already seen a 10 percent increase in kindergarten enrollment at some schools. Midfield City School leaders also believe numbers will jump as well and expect enrollment to re-open in July.

School leaders say ideally schools try to keep classes under 22 students, so this summer they’ll monitor how enrollment will impact class size and shifting resources to accommodate.

“If we start seeing the numbers increase a significant amount – that’s when we look at shifting,” said Dr. Orletta Rush, Jefferson County Schools. “You may have on one side of Jefferson County where you have a large number and on the other side a smaller number and you may be able to do some combining of classrooms and shift that teacher to another school.”

It’s not just about kindergarten, leaders said 1st grade enrollment is important as well. Because kindergarten isn’t mandatory, some parents may send their child directly to 1st grade, so districts are monitoring how it will impact class size.

Jefferson County leaders say they also have extra resources in place to make sure the child is ready academically since they missed kindergarten.

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