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Student registration lags in Memphis as new school year looms

Since 1948, East High School has served students in Memphis.
Since 1948, East High School has served students in Memphis.
Caroline Bauman

With less than three weeks until the new school year begins at Shelby County Schools, more than half of the district’s expected students are still not registered.

As of Wednesday, 41,000 students were signed up, an increase of 7,000 from late June, according to a district spokeswoman. The Memphis district has a projected enrollment of about 104,000 students for the upcoming school year, which begins on Aug. 8.

The lag comes despite the district’s efforts to make the registration process easier and more accessible to parents. Last year, the district moved to all-online registration, including numerous registration events to provide low-income parents with access to computers and internet service. This year, administrators opened up the process earlier to widen the window for registration.

On-time registration is a chronic challenge for Memphis schools, where high rates of mobility and poverty are among the barriers.

Despite the disappointing numbers thus far , district leaders are planning for a big push as they sprint toward the first day of classes. On Aug. 2, the district will host “Gear Up 4 School Day,” when parents can visit their schools to register their children, meet their principals, and receive school supply lists.

Having accurate and timely registration numbers are important for planning and instruction purposes. In 2014, for example, missed enrollment projections led to teacher layoffs.

Parents can get assistance and receive English language support at the district’s new parent welcome center at 2687 Avery Ave., its northeast offices at 920 N. Highland St., and its Arlington offices at 2800 Grays Creek Drive. Starting July 25, parents also can register their children at individual schools.

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