K-12 enrollment rebounds, virtual schools see declines

Idaho’s K-12 public schools added thousands of students this school year, reversing last year’s pandemic-driven decline and resuming a years-long statewide upward enrollment trend.

The State Board of Education’s latest statewide fall enrollment tally: 312,317 — an increase of about 0.7% from last school year, when enrollment dropped by thousands as the pandemic shuttered schools and shifted learning to online and remote settings.

Traditional K-12 schools saw nearly all this year’s growth, adding 7,652 kids.

A drop of 5,038 kids at the state’s virtual schools signifies a major shift back to traditional classroom settings in the third school year of the pandemic.

This year’s increase brings enrollment back to a new three-year high. In 2019-20, the number peaked at 311,991, before falling to 309,911 last school year.

Enrollment matters because it’s tied to how Idaho carves up about $2 billion in state K-12 funding. The numbers are also a snapshot of where enrollments were when districts submitted them to the state in October.

Here’s a closer look at where growth did — and didn’t — happen this school year.

Districts saw the biggest increases

Idaho’s largest school district, West Ada, topped this year’s growth tally, adding 1,002 students for a new enrollment of 38,744.

Four other districts rounded out the top five spots for growth:

  • The Vallivue School District saw a 662-student jump, for a new total of 9,571.
  • The Snake River School District, located near Blackfoot, added 547 students, for a new enrollment of 2,824. Snake River has been a big mover for growth in recent years, attributing much of it to its addition of an online school equipped to serve kids from communities across the state.
  • The Lakeland School District’s enrollment jumped from 4,330 to 4,650, for a total of 320 new kids.
  • The Post Falls School District saw an increase of 301 students, bringing its enrollment to 6,138.

Virtual schools saw the steepest declines

Idaho Virtual Academy and the Oneida County School District combined for a loss of 2,721 students since this school year.

IVA is the state’s largest virtual charter school, while Oneida has focused heavily on becoming home to the state’s largest virtual school, Idaho Home Learning Academy, in recent years.

Here’s a look at where the biggest declines occurred statewide:

  • Idaho Virtual Academy lost 1,767 students, for a 2021-22 enrollment of 2,051. The Treasure Valley-based charter was among those with the largest growth last school year, as the pandemic drove students to online learning.
  • The Oneida County School District’s enrollment plummeted by 954 students from last school year, bringing its total to 6,923. The district’s home learning academy is still the state’s largest virtual school, enrolling students from all over Idaho.
  • The Boise School District tallied a 784-student decline, bringing its enrollment to 23,073. It’s the second-straight year Boise reported a drop. Last year, the district lost 1,627 kids, State Board number show. Spokesman Dan Hollar said local leaders believe the drops are due in part to families moving o areas with more affordable housing.
  • ARTEC Industrial charter school reported a 200-student decline. The drop brings the school’s enrollment to zero, along with its Magic Valley sister school, ARTEC. The schools announced in September that they’d close this year following a nearly year-long state investigation that found they had inflated their enrollments.
  • INSPIRE Virtual Charter School lost 401 students, bringing its 2021-22 enrollment to 1,429.

How did your district or charter fare?

Click here for a statewide look at how enrollments shook out in districts and charters across the state. The rundown includes enrollments dating back to the 2019-20 school year, and how much they changed from this school year to last.

Devin Bodkin

Devin Bodkin

Devin was formerly a senior reporter and editor for Idaho Education News and now works for INL in communications.

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