By Jeff Harrison
Midwest City Beacon
Mid-Del Schools continues to see its student enrollment rebound following a sharp decline during the pandemic.
The district has added 1,623 students since the 2020-21 school year, when enrollment dropped by more than 3,100 students.
Mid-Del reported 12,548 students in pre-K-12th grade for the 2022-23 school year. That is an increase of 148 students from last year’s enrollment of 12,436.
Nearly all of the district elementary schools added students this year. The district also closed Steed and Highland Park elementary schools at the end of last school year, which moved students to Soldier Creek, Midwest City Elementary, Ridgecrest, Parkview, Townsend and Epperly Heights.
Soldier Creek – the district’s largest elementary school – added 204 students. It now has an enrollment of 910 students, compared to 706 last school year. Townsend grew by 153 students to 459 total. Epperly Heights, Parkview, Midwest City Elementary and Barnes each added more than 100 students. Cleveland Bailey, Country Estates, Pleasant Hill and Tinker each saw declines.
At the secondary level, all three high schools and two of the middle schools experienced growth. Carl Albert High School grew by 74 students to 1,115. Midwest City High School added 47 students and Del City High School 22 students. Carl Albert Middle School added 74 students, Del City Middle School grew by 10 and Midwest City Middle School saw its enrollment drop by 75 students.
The district also saw many students transfer into the district. The state launched a new system that allows students to transfer to other districts if space allows. The system launched in July.
Superintendent Rick Cobb said he anticipated the district’s enrollment would rebound.
“We’ve been expecting the bounce back. As steep as the number of returning students was last year, I think it will be slower, but steady for the next few years,” he said.
Cobb said it could take a few years to see the long-term impacts of the pandemic.
“I think in 4-5 years from the beginning of the pandemic, we will know the new normal,” he said. “That will also include pandemic births, which I believe will be a significant group of students.”
Prior to the pandemic, Mid-Del’s enrollment had stayed relatively steady over the past decade. The district had 14,634 students in 2011-12. That number dipped to 14,207 in 2019-20, before the pandemic. Mid-Del saw a large decline in student enrollment after the May 3, 1999, tornado destroyed several homes.
School districts across the state have seen a similar trend as student enrollment for public schools increased for the second year in a row. Oklahoma State Department of Education data shows 701,258 public school students enrolled in Pre-K through 12th grade, up from 698,696 in 2021-22 and 694,113 in 2020-21.
Enrollment is approaching the 2019-20 count of 703,650.
“Oklahoma families recognize the value of their local public schools, and with good reason,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister in a press release. “Our public schools are consistently implementing the Ready Together Oklahoma plan and other strategies to help students succeed in the wake of challenges spurred by the global pandemic. As enrollment steadily increases, it is important that the state Legislature ensure our educators are well-prepared to provide a high-quality education.”
Mid-Del Schools now ranks No. 13 among the largest districts in the state. Tulsa is the largest with 33,871 students followed by Oklahoma City (33,245), Epic Charter School (28,478), Edmond (26,190), Moore (24,632), Broken Arrow (20,115), Putnam City (18,905), Norman (15,786), Union (14,890), Lawton (13,979), Mustang (13,494), and Jenks (12,654).
Neighboring Choctaw-Nicoma Park’s enrollment grew by 187 students to 5,816.
Enrollment figures are calculated as of Oct. 1.