Owensboro, Daviess County and Owensboro Catholic school districts are reporting their enrollment numbers are down, but officials from each district attribute the decreases to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Enrollment dropped 4% in both Owensboro Public Schools and Daviess County Public Schools, with most of the decrease within elementary grades, specifically kindergarten, officials report.
Owensboro Catholic Schools saw a decrease of 12 students, which OCS Chief Administrative Office Keith Osborne said is a reflection of many families opting for homeschool.
He also said that there were several new families that enrolled in the district not only because of its strong academic reputation, but because it is offering in-person students classes five days a week.
“We continue to have a wait-list at our elementary grades (kindergarten through six), but distancing guidelines currently prohibit us from accommodating more students,” Osborne said.
There are currently 358 students at the OCS K-3 Campus; 258 students at the district’s 4-6 Campus; 198 at Owensboro Catholic Middle School; and 404 students at Owensboro Catholic High School, totaling 1218 students.
Osborne said that he and other officials within the district feel confident that the families who opted for homeschooling their children this year due to the virus will return to OCS “once they are comfortable with the pandemic situation.”
Similarly, OPS is reporting a decrease, from 4,963 students this time last year to 4,771 this year, said OPS Director of Student Services George Powell, who added that this is unusual, but it wasn’t unexpected.
“It’s obviously related to what’s going on around the world,” he said. “It’s not what we would have, our enrollment has basically increased or stayed the same for the last five or six years.”
When Powell dug deeper into the numbers, he also was able to see that particularly with kindergarten there was a sharp decrease in students. Last year OPS had 425 kindergarten students, and this year there are 337.
A lot of parents just didn’t want to start their child virtually in kindergarten, as all schools in the area, except for Owensboro Catholic, were beginning this school year with virtual and distance learning.
This year, Cravens Elementary has 376 students, which is up from last year due to some redistricting of students who are English learners; Estes has 490 students; Foust has 411; Newton Parrish has 497 students; Sutton has 480; iMiddle School has 315 students; Owensboro Middle has 836; and Owensboro High School has 1331. OPS students who attend Owensboro Innovation Academy are included in the OHS numbers.
Damon Fleming, DCPS director of student services, said there are currently 10,755 Daviess County students compared to 11,201 students this time last year. Of that number, the district was aware of 411 students who are being homeschooled at the start of this school year.
Audubon Elementary has 402 students; Burns Elementary has 427; Country Heights has 377; Deer Park has 460; East View has 450 students; Highland has 453 students; Meadow Lands has 377; Sorgho has 362; Southern Oaks has 417; Tamarack Elementary has 446; West Louisville has 300; Whitesville has 293; Burns Middle has 801; College View Middle has 837; Daviess County Middle has 862; Apollo has 1472; Daviess County High has 1777; and Heritage Park has 190 students.
Fleming said other districts across the state are reporting similar decreases in numbers, specifically with kindergarten.
There were 871 kindergarteners in DCPS last year, and this year there are 711.
Fleming said many parents of kindergarteners opted to keep them home another year.
“So we do anticipate a large kindergarten class next year,” he said.
Bobbie Hayse, firstname.lastname@example.org, 270-691-7315