The findings of a demographic study, commissioned by Superintendent Robert Durón last fall and conducted by Harner and Associates, were presented to the San Antonio schools’ trustees in February. The study costs $51,000 and will help San Antonio schools’ officials to handle their declining enrollment problem.
The study findings were not positive, expecting declining enrollment within the San Antonio schools to continue over the next ten years with no discernible improvement. It was found that enrollment has been on the decline for a decade with recent years seeing the most student departure. Between the 2001 and 2002 school years, the San Antonio schools lost 864 students. Between 2005 and 2006 school years, they lost 1,340 students, representing about 18 percent of its student population. Some new student enrollment did help to offset these departures.
The study notes that the increasing enrollment decline is not unusual for urban school districts. San Antonio schools, in particular, have a shortage of new developments for those families exiting the suburban areas. San Antonio schools also must improve their programs to attract new families — and new housing cannot take care of the problem alone.
The current San Antonio school enrollment is 55,364 students. The study predicts a worst-case scenario of 51,669 students by the 2016-2017 school year. The best-case scenario is 54,574 students by the 2016-2017 school year. The average scenario of the worse and best case is 53,122 in ten years, which is the figure the San Antonio schools’ officials will use for planning purposes.
Some proposals currently up for discussion by the San Antonio schools’ officials are:
• School closures and consolidations, using the study findings. With the continuous departure of students from the San Antonio schools, this avenue is a given for future planning.
• San Antonio schools board Vice President James Howard has recommended consolidating with neighboring school districts with enrollment declines, including Edgewood, South San Antonio, and Harlandale. Such suggestions in the past have been met with controversy within Bexar County, which has 16 school districts. As Howard pointed out to the San Antonio schools board, however, growth is to the north of the city. It needs to happen for everyone’s benefit.
• Lastly, Superintendent Durón and his staff are developing a new office within the San Antonio schools at a preliminary estimated cost of $200,000. In the past, the San Antonio schools’ officials had made no effort to track departing students, though the Texas Education Agency has available resources for them to use. They knew that many of their students were leaving the San Antonio schools for Northside, North East, and Judson school districts, as well as abandoning the traditional public schools for charter and private schools. The new office will help the San Antonio schools do a better job of tracking student departures, gather data on families leaving the district, and survey those who remain. The purpose is to gain a better idea of what families need and want from the San Antonio schools. This proposal has yet to go before the San Antonio schools’ board.