Enrollment overall has been stagnant in the Washington School District in recent years, according to Assistant Superintendent Dr. Brendan Mahon.
The student count has not changed much over the last three years, Mahon told school board members at their meeting last week.
Current enrollment in the district, kindergarten through high school, is 3,870. Last year, the district reported 3,874 students and the year before that, 3,861.
“The district at its peak was 4,106 students districtwide in 2010-11,” he said. “We are now 240 students below that number.”
Mahon said the district does not have good enrollment data prior to 2001-02.
Although middle school numbers are up this year, the total number of kindergarten students districtwide is the smallest in the past 18 years.
The freshman class at Washington High School also is the smallest in the past 18 years. The highest enrollment at WHS was 1,491 students in 2006-07.
“We are now 200 below that number,” Mahon said.
Enrollment fluctuates throughout the year, he noted, as students enter and/or leave the district.
“We tend to have a slightly higher enrollment in January and then it typically decreases by the end of the school year,” Mahon said.
School officials monitor enrollment monthly, he said, looking for trends.
Mahon said there are some elementary buildings in the district that are at or over capacity, while others could accommodate more students, but it depends on the particular grade in some cases.
The district operates six elementary schools, a middle school, high school, career center and early learning center.
School board members asked if the other districts were experiencing the same drop in kindergarten students. Superintendent Dr. Lori VanLeer said she didn’t think so.
Board member John Freitag said he thinks the sluggish enrollment is due in part to a lack of affordable housing in the district. He said there is more of that type of building going on in the Union and Meramec Valley School District boundaries.