Three months into the school year, enrollment at Shelby County Schools is higher than projected but still on the decline.
The number of students attending Tennessee’s largest school system reached 105,299 last week, down from 109,000 last school year, but still up from the district’s projected enrollment of about 104,000, according to district spokeswoman Kristin Tallent.
The numbers include more than 13,300 students at 45 district-authorized charter schools, which enrolled a record-setting 12 percent of the student population.
Enrollment determines the amount of per-pupil funding the district receives from local, state and federal governments. It also impacts hiring. Shelby County Schools now has 50 teaching positions left to fill, down from 100 at the beginning of the school year, Tallent said.
Much of the district’s enrollment decline is due to the state’s takeover this summer of four more schools: Kirby Middle, Raleigh-Egypt Middle, Caldwell-Guthrie Elementary and Hillcrest High. All four were on the state’s priority list of low-performing schools and reopened this school year under the management of charter school operators through Tennessee’s Achievement School District, or ASD.
Shelby County Schools has sought to stem the drain more aggressively in the last year by reconfiguring grades, rezoning schools and recruiting students away from ASD schools.