by Max Brantley
The state has now posted official opening school enrollment statewide. The Pulaski County numbers are not good -- a net decline in students. The bright spot? Enrollment rose in the Little Rock School District while dropping in North Little Rock and the Pulaski County Special School District. (That first link gives you racial breakdowns by school. This one gives you total enrollment for each district. Note: Statewide, total enrollment of about 466,000 was virtually flat, up about 700. UPDATE: just added to the state's table, total white enrollment statewide was down almost 2,000, which is relevant to some discussion in the thread about results in Little Rock.)
There's more at work than school enrollment. Stagnant population in Pulaski means fewer kids means economic stagnation. But -- those predictions of doom for the LR School District during the recent election haven't been immediately borne out. The decline in white enrollment continued, however. (By 254 districtwide.) It's hard to say if this decline represents considered choice of a private school or is also a byproduct of the inexorable decline in the white population in LR in general. If every school-age child in the LR School District went to public school, the district still would only be 35 percent white, according to Census data (and the numbers are several years old).
The enrollment numbers, with 2006 first:
LRSD -- 25,500 25,738 +238
NLRSD -- 9,334 8,934 -360
PCSSD -- 17,756 17,396 -361
Those drops in enrollment mean a loss of $2 million in state support to NLR and Pulaski. Bentonville reported the biggest growth in enrollment -- more than 800 new students. Nearby: Cabot, +314; Bryant, +301; Conway, +228.