First Bell: Some notes about enrollment figures

• In Wednesday’s paper, we reported about the Lawrence school district’s plans to upgrade elementary school classrooms to better accommodate modern teaching and learning practices.

Along the way, I included information about enrollment trends at the six “core” elementary schools in east and central Lawrence that are the focus of much of the proposed bond issue that would fund the upgrades.

District officials properly noted a couple of facts that would have helped readers put those numbers in context.

First, I reported trends from the 2009-10 school year to the present. However, the following year (2010-11), Lawrence shifted sixth-grade classes from elementary schools to middle schools.

That policy change affected enrollment at all elementary schools in the district, not just the six “core” schools. However, it’s an important fact to keep in mind when you see numbers showing a general trend downward over that period.

Second, I was working with data from the Kansas State Department of Education. District officials spotted a flaw in those numbers that affects New York School.

The data pulled from the KSDE website showed 301 students enrolled at New York in 2009-10, including 165 preschoolers (special education 3- and 4-year-olds, and 4-year-old at-risk students).

But New York School did not have a preschool program that year. Those students attended the former East Heights Early Childhood Family Center.

Correcting for that error, the numbers for New York School should have been 136 students in grades K-6 during 2009-10, compared with 178 students in grades K-5 this year, an increase of 42 students, or nearly 31 percent, even with the shift of sixth-grade classes to middle schools.

We’ll be following up with more stories about enrollment trends and the district’s plans for facility improvements. But I thought that much of it was important to pass along immediately.

• Have news about local schools or education issues you’d like to share with the community. Call me at 832-7259, or email