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TPS Officials Blame Pandemic for 3,000 Student Drop in Enrollment

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Tulsa Public Schools officials said Monday the district lost about 3,000 students over the past year, three times what they expected based on the past few years.

Chief Operations Officer Jorge Robles believes the pandemic is to blame. He said the drop is mostly due to lower enrollment in early grade levels, including steep declines in pre-K and third grade.

"The biggest decline was seen among Latinx students; therefore, the two feeder patterns where we have most of those families in Hale and East Central are the ones that were most impacted by what we’re seeing from the effects of the pandemic," Robles said.

Robles said the district was already losing about 1,200 students per year to suburban districts, but that wasn’t having a real impact.

"The school-age population has remained steady in our boundaries. So, that migration, the stead migration of 1,200 kids to the suburbs, has been offset over the years by, you know, new birth, relocations, et cetera," Robles said.

Officials also believe TPS has lost more than 2,400 students to Epic Charter Schools since 2013.

Oklahoma City Public Schools and TPS have seen enrollment decline since the 1970s, when each had around 80,000 students. As of Oct. 1, 2020, TPS had 32,323 students enrolled.

Matt Trotter joined KWGS as a reporter in 2013. Before coming to Public Radio Tulsa, he was the investigative producer at KJRH. His freelance work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and on MSNBC and CNN.
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