SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — Utah public schools saw their year-over-year enrollment numbers decline this year.
The Utah State Board of Education said Thursday that enrollment in the public education system decreased by nearly 2,000 students, marking a 0.3% decrease from 2022.
The biggest drops were in elementary grades. Kindergarten classes saw a 3% dip while first-grade classes saw a 4.4% decline.
The story was different for charter schools in the public system. According to officials, public charter schools added more than 500 students this year, marking a 1% increase over 2022.
Charter schools in Utah now account for more than 79,000 students in the public school population, or 12% of students statewide, education officials said.
According to Gina James, a spokesperson for the Utah Association of Public Charter Schools, the increase in charter enrollment shows “public charter school parents appreciate school choice” and the option to seek out a school that best fits their child.
The latest enrollment statistics show the Alpine School District is the largest in Utah, with 84,710 students. The second-largest is Davis, with 70,703 students, and the third-largest is Granite, with 58,312 students.
Demographically, 30% of public school students were listed as “economically disadvantaged,” according to state data. Nearly 13% were listed as students with disabilities.
About 71% of public school students were listed as white, the data shows. Hispanic students accounted for nearly 20% of the population, while the figures for Black, Asian, Pacific Islander, and American Indian students were all under 2%. Just over 3% of students were listed as multiracial.
Correction: The Utah State Board of Education initially said that the 2023 drop in numbers marked the first time such a thing had happened. As such, this article was first written with that framing. However, the board issued a correction on Nov. 7, noting that public school enrollment declines were previously experienced in 2020 and 2021, which officials attributed to pandemic disruptions. The board said it made an “informational error.”