Despite new charters, Lafayette system sees enrollment gains

Enrollment is up slightly in the Lafayette Parish School System, despite the loss of about 800 students to three new charter schools, Superintendent Pat Cooper said Friday.

A preliminary count as of Wednesday showed an enrollment of 30,467 students. That’s an increase of about 400 students compared to a February 2014 count taken by the state in the last school year that showed 30,064 students in Lafayette Parish schools.

Counts taken in October are used to calculate the district’s state per student funding and will provide a more accurate picture of enrollment impact in the district, Cooper said.

In October 2013, the district’s count was 30,216 students.

“We still have kids moving in. We registered over 170 kids this month alone just in the ESL program,” Cooper said, referring to the district’s English as a Second Language program.

Like other districts across the country, Lafayette Parish has seen an increase in ESL students who enter the country as unaccompanied minors. Cooper estimated the district’s ESL enrollment at about 1,400 students.

Some students who had enrolled in charter schools are returning to the parish’s schools, Cooper said, though a count of how many won’t be available until October.

Meanwhile, the district is still working to balance out the growth.

Last week, Cooper said the district planned to purchase additional buses to help with overcrowded vehicles and planned to adjust bus routes.

He said Friday that the district needs about 15 more teachers to help balance out overcrowded classrooms across the district.