Enrollment has fallen at Platte County R-3 compared to a year ago, something that hasn’t happened in more than two decades.
Total K-12 students for school year 2020-21 is at 4,205 students, which is down by 54 students from last year’s number of 4,259. It’s a drop of 1.3 percent.
School officials said the last time enrollment dropped occurred 22 years ago when it fell by one student to 1,891 in the year 1998.
Laura Hulett, director of communications for Platte County R-3, said that 75 students who withdrew have transferred to either a home school setting or private school setting.
“We are hearing that enrollment is down in many area districts,” Hulett told The Landmark last Thursday.
Dr. Mike Reik, superintendent for R-3, added that he knows the Smithville School District and North Kansas City School each saw about a one percent drop as well.
“Those are two other Northland districts that have seen routine annual growth,” Reik said.
“Informal conversations with my metro colleagues have indicated this is a pervasive issue across the metro that all connect to COVID and less-than-convenient learning modalities,” Reik told The Landmark Thursday.
Reik does not believe the falling enrollment will become a trend.
“Our building permit data and overall growth in residential property would suggest continued growth,” Reik said.
Looking at R-3 enrollment by building, the largest percentage drop occurred at Pathfinder Elementary (K-4) in the southern portion of the district. Pathfinder’s enrollment declined by 11 percent compared to last year, with 580 students this year compared to 652 in 2019.
Platte City Middle School enrollment is down by 46 students, nearly seven percent, dropping from 702 to 656.
Largest enrollment growth by building occurred at Barry School (grades 5-8), increasisng from 431 in 2019 to 455 this year, a growth of nearly six percent.
Platte County High School enrollment is at 1,311, up by 40 students from last year, which is 3% growth.
Schools remaining virtually the same were Compass Elementary in Platte City (grades K-5) having nine fewer students this year (down 1.47%), and Siegrist Elementary in Platte City (grades K-5) showing nine more students (up 1.53%) this year.
As reported in last week’s Landmark, Park Hill School District had very slight enrollment growth this year, a much smaller bump than is typical.
Park Hill’s 2020-21 enrollment is 11,767, up by only 58 students from last year. That’s an increase of only half a percent.
Park Hill officials said the kindergarten number was particularly surprising. School officials said there are 79 fewer kindergarten students than had been projected.
At the high school level at Park Hill, school officials said enrollment is 64 students more than projected.
The school district told patrons the half a percent growth is “less growth than had been anticipated.”
Park Hill’s enrollment has increased for 37 consecutive years, officials said.