Thousands of families are choosing charter schools, private schools or homeschooling instead of public schools this fall.
The largest declines come from Salt Lake City School District which was the only district in Utah to move entirely online this school year.
Utah State Education Officials projected 7,000 more students would be enrolling in Utah public schools this fall, instead, they realized 2,000 fewer than in 2019. This is the first time ever Utah has realized a net loss of Utah kids enrolling in public schools.
What is clear from the statistics is that more white and wealthy families are choosing to pull their children from school, while non-whites and minorities are choosing to keep their children in public schools or not enroll their children in school.
The Salt Lake City School District was the only school district to choose to go entirely online. Judge Memorial (a private Catholic school) which is in Salt Lake City, offered in-person classes; they saw a 20 percent increase in enrollment. So what is really going on?
Minorities in Salt Lake City are not logging into their “virtual classrooms.” This really comes as no surprise. How can two parents working full-time sit with their children while they attend all-day zoom meetings? Wealthier families can afford to put their kids in private schools in Salt Lake City, while poorer families can’t even enroll their kids in school. A lot of families are choosing to enroll their children in Granite School District instead of Salt Lake School District. So does Salt Lake City School District still believe offering online-only classes was a good idea?
A spokesperson for the Salt Lake City School District spoke to KSL News and this is what she had to say to KSL Newsradio:
Spokesperson Yándary Chatwin says there isn’t one specific reason for the decline, but it has been similar to what other districts have been going through.
She says, “There are a number of reasons that enrollment was turning downward, anyway. There is a housing crisis in Salt Lake. Prices are going up and a lot of families are looking at the suburbs instead.”
Educators don’t believe there is just one reason for the drop and they’re looking into every possibility. For instance, Chatwin says some parents may have taken their kids out of the district due to the decision to keep classes online for the first quarter of the school year. Others may not have been able to register their children properly since they couldn’t access the internet.
Sher adds, “Since we have such a gap in lack of access to the internet in Salt Lake City, a lot of families couldn’t take care of that registration on their own. So it was crucial that the schools and teachers came to them.”
This will have an adverse effect on funding for the Salt Lake City School District because they gain their funding from enrollment numbers. With far fewer students logging in sitting in front of the computer all day, Salt Lake City School District’s funding will suffer.
In 2018, nearly 42 percent of all state taxes collected went to education funding. $6.5 billion was collected from property tax, individual income tax and corporate franchise taxes. Wine and liquor sales generated $50 million for schools and federal funds added another $421 million. More numbers found here.
There are 669,548 K-12 Students enrolled in Utah Schools. A massive number, almost one-third of our entire population in Utah. Here are some stats about how those students are distributed:
- Alpine School District is Utah’s largest school district with 80,000 students in 31 schools
- Provo School District has 16,165 students in 17 schools
- Granite School District has 67,000 students in 63 schools
- Davis School District has 72,987 students
- Salt Lake City School District has 25,000 students
Salt Lake City School District teachers earn on average $65,000 per year.