Baltimore’s schools, already suffering from declining enrollments, will lose even more students next year. School officials gave the news to a city council committee Tuesday.
Schools CEO Sonja Santelises told a committee looking into the school system’s enrollment task force that officials are projecting that 1500 students will leave the district in the 2018 to 2019 school year. She said the loss of students typically happens in 5th and 6th grades because parents are unsure of the middle school options available to them, but that trend has changed.
“For the past couple of years it has been 2nd grade,” said Santelises. “So we don’t know what is going on in second grade.”
Santelises says the school district also loses families due to the voucher program which allows parents to choose options outside of city schools for their child’s education.
“I’m not trying to wipe out those options, but we need to compete even in our best schools,” said Santelises.
City Council President Jack Young had called for the hearing because he complained the school system’s task force didn’t have enough council or parent representation.
District Seven Councilman Leon Pinkett said the council and the school system must work together to get the approximately 15 percent drop-out rate under control.
“Our dropout rate is even higher than other metropolitan areas, significantly higher than other areas, we’ve got to figure that out,” said Pinkett.
City council members asked Santelises to keep them informed of the Baltimore Teachers’ Union’s door knocking campaign and to give the council a seat on her taskforce.