PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Six of the 10 largest school districts in Oregon saw enrollment declines larger than the statewide average of 3.7% as a result of the pandemic, remote learning and other schooling options.
The Oregon Department of Education said that although enrollment is a key factor in distributing school funding, the funding level is fixed and the funding distribution formula is flexible enough to accommodate this decline without significantly impacting the dollars needed to support students.
The 2020-21 Fall Membership Report shows Oregon’s kindergarten enrollment declined 28%, slightly less than the national average of 30%.
Elementary grades all saw drops of 5-6%, but high school enrollment rose by 0.2%. Online charter schools, as a group, saw enrollment rise by 54%, representing more than 7000 additional students attending those schools. Much of the increase was in early grades.
The decline for the 2020-21 school year is comparable to the enrollment level seen during the great recession before enrollment began to recover.
The State School Fund has a feature that helps smooth funding swings when a district experiences substantial changes in enrollment from one year to the next.
The Oregon DOE is committed to returning students to in-person instruction. They anticipate enrollment will rebound once students are back in school.