Salt Lake City School District officials are trying to find a reason for a more than 20 percent drop in enrollment at some district elementary schools. According to a recent report from the board, total enrollment in Salt Lake City schools fell by nearly 7 percent from a year ago. The enrollment of all district schools — including charter schools — fell from 23,029 last fall to 21,460 this fall.

Overall, elementary school enrollment dropped 12.5 percent year-over-year but in some schools, head counts fell more than 20 percent. Enrollment at Indian Hills Elementary School, an east bench school, fell 25 percent while enrollment at Parkview Elementary, a Title I school, fell 23 percent. Beacon Heights, also located along the east bench, had a 23 percent drop in enrollment as well.

Sam Quantz, the school district’s chief information officer, said officials are still attempting to discern why elementary school enrollment fell so much. Kindergarten enrollment is down nationwide, and in Salt Lake schools, the count was down 20 percent from a year ago.

Board member Kristi Swett said whatever the reasons, the district needs to understand what is behind the decline in enrollment, which was lesser among middle schools, down 4 percent overall. There was 1 percent overall increase in enrollment at the district’s high schools.

“I think this is a historic moment in our district that we are down 1,569 students. I think that that’s something that this district, board and this administration that we have to talk about. I think it’s important that we try and figure out why that is,” Swett said.

Board President Melissa Ford said the district’s latest enrollment “confirms, in a lot of ways, what my community has been telling me, that they’ve been pulling their kids out of elementary schools because they’re having a hard time with online learning. I think we do need to study it more. I think we do need to be concerned about it.”

There has also been a decline in public school enrollment statewide. The state’s official Oct. 1 count is still being calculated, but a head count on Sept. 9 suggests there are 9,000 fewer students attending Utah schools this fall than projections anticipated.

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