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DPS enrollment still down, but "declining at declining rate"

Enrollment in the Detroit Public Schools is down slightly from last year—but the district is calling that a victory after years of double-digit enrollment declines.

According to unofficial data released Tuesday, the district counts 47,238 students across its 97 schools.

That’s down 3.4% from the prior year. But district spokesman Steve Wasko said it beat the district’s own budget targets, as well as demographer’s projections.

And despite a “highly competitive education marketplace in and around the city of Detroit,” along with a shrinking number of school-age children, DPS enrollment is now “declining at a declining rate,” Wasko says.

“For the past 20 years, consistent [year-on-year] loss across Detroit Public Schools has been 10% or greater…in some cases even 20% or 25,” Wasko says.  “The declines both last year and this year are sharply down from that.”

District officials credit a number of “strategic initiatives,” and say “program enhancements” have helped boost enrollment at some schools.

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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