The number of students attending the San Antonio Independent School District this school year is nearly the same as last year, marking a potentially significant shift from a decades-long trend of declining enrollment.
During a presentation to the board Tuesday, district staff said 48,652 students are currently attending SAISD schools — just 68 less than the official enrollment count reported to the state in October 2018.
The district lost nearly 2,000 students a year the two previous years amid increased competition with charter schools.
“It has been a downward trend from 1997 until now, and only from this year to last year is where we see a plateau,” said Tricia Baumer, executive director of enrollment for SAISD. “We are still about three weeks away from (the official state count), but we’re hoping that plateau will stay.”
The board approved a budget in June based on a slight increase in enrollment. The district launched an expanded registration effort over the summer after trustees expressed concern that the projection would be hard to meet.
Baumer said Tuesday that her office is putting plans in place to make sure enrollment is even better next year.
“From talking to parents and talking to different campuses and just reviewing — this is a lesson learned from last year: We need to do a better job, especially at the campus level, of talking about what we do great,” Baumer said.
Superintendent Pedro Martinez said the district also learned that it needs to adjust the timeline for offering spots at specialized schools, where families apply and are chosen based on a lottery.
“The big one for us was not waiting so long for the process of acceptance and declines for the options and giving more offers,” Martinez said. “We should have accepted more people at many of the choice schools, especially at the high schools. At CAST Tech and CAST Med we lost families because we waited too long (for families to respond to the first round of offers).”
Baumer told the board that the district will probably lose a few more students before the state’s official count at the end of the month, but she still expects overall enrollment to change by less than 1%.