This year, there are fewer kids enrolled at the nine middle and high schools in the Apollo 20 schools than there were at this time last year -- 810 fewer to be exact -- according to numbers provided to Hair Balls by the Houston ISD.
It comes from an 11-page spreadsheet showing how many kids were at each school as of September 20. And compares that to the enrollment or "membership" last year. According to the district, the cause could be something as simple as because fewer kids were born years ago who would be in middle or high school now.
In two earlier postings, Hair Balls looked at the transfer numbers in and out of the nine schools with their longer school days and years. Following our first posting on September 16, Superintendent Terry Grier (publicly and in print) and board member Paula Harris (publicly) expressed their displeasure with us.
Grier said the overall number of transfers was about the same as the previous year's (true).
So then we asked: How many transfers in and out were there exactly at these nine schools, that had nothing to do with "ordinary" transfers? HISD devised a formula and ran numbers for two days and came up with 481 "new" transfers out and 39 "new" transfers in. And we published that.
Several friends of Hair Balls told us that we really should instead be looking at enrollment numbers. So we did and got numbers showing a decline.
Which was predicted, in fact, says HISD spokesman Norm Uhl, by the district's Magellan Report done last year that surveyed the use of the school district's facilities. He said when demographers do projections, "they look at such things as how many kids were born in a certain year that would now be entering middle school or high school."
A comparison of the Magellan predictions to the enrollment data shows that in the seven cases where the Magellan estimators underestimated the dropoff in enrollment they were pretty close to actuality (they were "off" by 8 to 137 kids, the most being at Lee High).
In turn, the Magellan Report overestimated anticipated losses at Kashmere and Sharpstown highs, missing Kashmere by just 12 kids, but missing Sharpstown by 236.
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Here's the actual losses, among the middle schools:
-- Attucks has 72 fewer kids (511 compared to 583) than it did at the same time last year.
-- Dowling lost 117 kids (1,315 vs. last year's 1,432)
-- Fondren dropped 137 students ( 598 this year, 735 last)
-- Key lost 60 (481 vs. 541)
-- Ryan dropped 31 (down to 325 from 356 last year)
And the high schools:
-- Jones lost 133 kids (578 vs. 711)
-- Kashmere has 19 fewer kids (553 vs. 572)
-- Lee had the biggest drop, 231 kids (1,676 vs. 1907 last year)
-- Sharpstown had the smallest, losing 10 students (1,236 instead of 1,246)
So the number of students going to the schools has definitely dropped -- which may be because they didn't want to go to classes with a longer day and a longer year or maybe they and their parents were just tired of going to schools that were doing a less than great job year after year and they didn't want to give them another chance.
Or maybe because not enough couples were getting it on back in the late '90s.