leaving school

Students at the Denton ISD Braswell High School filter out of the building at the end of the first day of school in 2016.

Enrollment is up for Denton ISD — a fact confirmed during a presentation this past week and likely a surprise for no one familiar with the fast-growing district.

The Aug. 27 presentation, which analyzed enrollment data from the first 10 days of the school year, was led by Angela Ricks, director of student and campus support services.

According to her presentation, 30,617 students were enrolled as of the 10th day of classes. That’s up from 30,019 at the same point in the previous school year.

But while the upward enrollment trend has continued for years, enrollment and attendance data are fickle and heavily dependent upon when the measurement is taken.

For example, 1,422 students had enrolled this year since the first day of school. The total enrollment, separate and distinct from attendance counts, will invariably shift until the school year ends this coming summer.

Along with an increase in students comes the nearly inevitable increase in the number of students from economically disadvantaged homes. Simply put, that means more students are enrolled in the national free and reduced-price meal program.

Despite the increase in students enrolled in the program, the rate of enrollment is less than a 1.5% increase at the same point over the previous year. Several factors help to determine whether students are eligible for the program, which is paid for by the federal government.

According to data assembled by the Texas Education Agency, the statewide number of students enrolled in the program has increased since at least the 2014-15 school year. Despite that, the rate of enrollment in the program throughout Texas hovered between 58.7% and 58.9% until a jump to 60.6% in the previous school year.

Statewide data is not yet available for the current school year.

Despite the consistent increases in most other categories, one area has been steadily creeping downward: the number of white students enrolled in public schools.

That number has decreased each year while many other metrics have climbed. The 10-day report from DISD shows the same slight downward trend since at least 2014.

On a national scale, a report published earlier by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that the birthrate for non-Hispanic white women was the lowest compared with other races.

While the exact cause for the decline as it relates to public education is not clear, research from the Brookings Institution in 2018 noted a decline in the population of people who are non-Hispanic white. William H. Frey, the article’s author, partially attributed the decline to an aging white population.

“The good news for the nation is that white aging and potential future declines will be countered by gains in racial minorities,” Frey wrote.

MARSHALL REID can be reached at 940-566-6862 and via Twitter at @MarshallKReid.

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