September 11, 2014 – Newark Public Schools (NPS) announced today that after years of declining enrollment, the district achieved an unprecedented increase in the number of Newark families enrolling in traditional public schools, while the projected attendance rate for the opening days of the 2014-15 school year remained high and comparable to previous years, and the new shuttle service is performing at high levels.
As a result of new enrollees to the district and the additional prekindergarten seats that opened this year, total enrollment is expected to increase by at least 1,000 students, representing the first significant single year increase in over a decade. Additionally, student attendance for the opening days of school was approximately 90%, consistent with attendance rates in previous years. Final audited enrollment and attendance data will be available in October once all data files are updated and reconciled.
“Enrollment figures indicate a growing confidence in public schools among the families that we serve every day,” said Sussex Avenue School Principal Darleen Gearhart. “You can feel the excitement as we work hard to improve options and opportunities for all kids.”
As NPS implements a bold and comprehensive plan to bring greater excellence, equity, and efficiency throughout the system, the early signs are positive: increased enrollment, strong attendance and the successful opening of a new school year in which even more high quality seats are available to Newark students and families from prekindergarten through high school.
“Time on task is critical to helping Newark students succeed,” said Superintendent Cami Anderson. “We worked hard to partner with families to ensure that every child had a school placement and more transportation options at the start of the school year. Given the tremendous success of our school opening, it is disheartening to see attempts to deny progress in favor of politics; however, I have been overwhelmed by the enthusiasm from hundreds of students and families that I met in schools during the first week. At the end of the day, Newarkers want more great schools so their kids can excel, and we are committed to delivering.”
In addition to the enrollment and attendance data released, NPS also announced that 92.5% of the bus routes in the new shuttle service launched this year were on-time (within 15 minutes of scheduled drop off or pick up) on day two and the number increased to 94% by day 5. Ridership also increased from 156 students on day 2 to 245 students on day 5.
Ross Danis, President/CEO for the Newark Trust for Education and co-chair of the Community Review Committee (CRC), a group of parents, education leaders, and elected officials who were convened to advice the district on its transportation initiative, congratulated NPS on its early performance.
“The CRC is very proud of the successful launch of the new school year,” said Danis. “We are thrilled to provide more options to families and glad the district recognized the importance of soliciting community input into the design process. To date, issues have been quickly addressed, demand is growing, and kids are getting to school on time. We look forward to partnering with the district and the community in the weeks and months ahead to continue to improve our customer service.”