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CPS apologizes for enrollment snafu on charters

Chicago Public Schools apologized Tuesday for releasing incorrect enrollment figures for charter and contract schools during a preliminary count on the district’s 10th day of school, which made charter schools look like they lost a whopping 10 percent of enrollment since last year.

CPS typically counts students in its privately managed contract schools along with the charters, but this year it did not, spokeswoman Emily Bittner said. That means 3,933 children enrolled so far this year in contract schools did not get added in with 54,889 students in charter schools, she said. With corrected numbers, charter and contract schools may have lost a little more than 4 percent of students since last September, when they had a total of 61,496.

“This does NOT change the overall enrollment number of 378,481, and we will provide an updated detailed breakdown after the school figures are reconciled on 20th day,” Bittner said in an email. “Again, please accept our sincere apologies.”

The city’s public schools appear to have lost 3.5 percent of students or about 13,000 students since last fall, when they totaled 392,285. That drop is more than twice as large as district officials projected in July.

Pre-kindergarten numbers and enrollment in alternative schools haven’t yet been tallied. CPS will take its official count of students on the 20th day of school, which this year falls on Oct. 3. That count determines a school’s final budget, and whether it will add teachers or lay them off. Last year, CPS picked up about 2,200 kids between the two counts.

Enrollment matters more than ever for schools now that CPS typically budgets money to schools on a per-pupil basis.