New state data shows the Mesa Unified School District has lost roughly the equivalent of an elementary school of students.
The numbers, released late Wednesday by the state Department of Education, show a decrease of 561 students between the 100th day of school last year and this year.
“This is not at all unexpected as far as the total loss,” said the district’s Chief Financial Officer George Zeigler, who added that when the state adds up Mesa’s distance learning program, the number should increase by up to 30 students.
When the state looked at October attendance numbers, it appeared that the district only lost 212 students, he said, so he doesn’t know where that additional drop could have come from. Some schools, such as Crossroads Academy, have even gained students throughout the school year, he said.
In August, the district originally declared its enrollment was up some 228 students from the previous year. But now, those numbers appear to be mistaken.
For more than a year, the district has been fighting to reverse declining enrollment. Last year, the district lost nearly 700 children, which school officials blamed on neighborhood buildout and students transferring to charter schools.
The state funds school districts based upon average daily membership -- the average number of students in class throughout the district during the first 100 days of the school year.