By Andrew Cluley- AAPS Communications Specialist
Enrollment in Ann Arbor Public Schools has increased by 1,001 students in the last three years according to preliminary results from student count day. Even adding 346 students this year to bring the total of K-12 students to 17,450, class size improved thanks to additional teacher hires.
Superintendent Jeanice Swift is excited that the student growth has come in the best way possible, across the full spectrum of ages. “The good news is that we’ve sustained a third year of significant growth in the district,” Swift says. “The excellent news is that growth spans early childhood, pre-school and young fives, elementary school, middle school, and high school.”
The last three years has shown growth each year in the elementary schools, middle schools, and high schools. There has also been strong growth in the Young Fives program, which is now available in 11 schools all across AAPS. In the fall of 2013 only 30 students were enrolled, that has increased to 228 students this year. Swift says it’s exciting to see growth in this program that has a positive impact on students throughout their educational career.
Some of the overall growth in enrollment comes from new schools of choice students, with 333 students entering the district this fall. That number is nearly matched, by the 317 students who already lived in the district and chose to switch to AAPS from other educational options this year. Swift says this is a tremendous trend line moving forward. “This is our second year in a row, of significant growth from students who live inside our own boundaries, who before were choosing another option, whether that was private, or charter, or parochial, and now are choosing the Ann Arbor Public Schools,” she says.
School board Vice-President Christine Stead believes the strong enrollment numbers are a reflection of the program enhancements the district is making, such as the International Baccalaureate program, expansion of world language offerings, enhanced STEAM programs, and other programs that were requested by community members. She says this growth is changing the destiny of Ann Arbor Public Schools. “When we have this kind of growth as a district, it allows us to continue to invest in our teachers and our schools and create the kind of financial stability where we can handle something like Allen Elementary having a water main pipe break underneath it and find a new school and not have to cut anything,” Stead says.
Thanks in part to voters approving the Special Education Millage earlier this year AAPS was able to reduce class size even as overall enrollment grew. Swift says the class size improvements came at all levels, not just in elementary school. At the high school level the percent of classes that fell within range or below increased from 90 to 94 percent. At the middle school level, 98 percent of classrooms are now below or within range.
In AAPS elementary schools, 99 percent of classrooms from first through fifth grade are currently at or below range, and 100 percent of kindergarten and young fives classrooms meet this criteria.