EBR school enrollment expected to drop 5%

Enrollment in the East Baton Rouge Parish school system is expected to drop by 5 percent in the next five years while the Ascension, Central and Zachary school districts can expect double-digit growth, state officials said Monday.

The estimates were provided for the Education Estimating Conference, which is a six-member panel that tracks public school trends.

They were prepared by Mark Brantley, consultant for the committee.

The comparisons, which exclude voucher students, focus on growth from the 2013-14 school years into the next five.

The results show that:

Enrollment in the East Baton Rouge Parish school system is expected to drop from 40,241 to 38,241, a 5 percent reduction.

The Ascension Parish school system is expected to rise from 20,933 to 23,083, a 10 percent increase.

The state’s top-rated district, Zachary, is expected to grow from 5,302 students to 5,982, a 13 percent increase.

The Central Community School District, which also is highly rated, is predicted to rise from 4,292 students to 4,727, a 10 percent hike.

Brantley noted that the East Baton Rouge Parish school system has “declined a good bit” since 2006, when enrollment swelled to 47,350 students after relocations in the wake of Hurricane Katrina the year before.

“After Katrina, there was quite a bit of volatility in the student population,” said Beth Scioneaux, deputy state superintendent of education and a member of the panel.

The state takeover of some troubled public schools in East Baton Rouge Parish is another factor in enrollment declines.

Brantley said another factor is the increase of voucher students, who collect state aid to move from troubled public schools to private schools if they meet income guidelines.

He said voucher students in the East Baton Rouge Parish school system have risen from the high 600s to the high 1,200s.

The Jefferson Parish school system, the largest in the state, is expected to rise from 44,610 to 46,360, a rise of 4 percent.

Other systems and their projected enrollments in five years include Livingston, 26,591, up 6 percent; Lafayette, 30,966, up 2 percent; West Baton Rouge, 3,723, up less than 1 percent; St. Tammany, 39,202, up 6 percent; and Baker, 1,316, down 18 percent.

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