Distance Learning Causing Exodus From Area Schools? Maybe…
Unless you've been purposely avoiding any and all social media exposure, or not talking to other people, you're probably aware of the seemingly 'large' number of parents in the Mid Columbia who have voiced strongly about removing their children from one of the Tri-City area public schools, namely Richland, Pasco or Kennewick.
Our school systems in B-F County are considered some of the best in the state, if not the region. When you compare our academic accomplishments to other areas, Tri-Cities does very well. However frustrations over distance learning have seemingly ripped the system apart to a degree. Some believe distance learning has been a complete failure.
During the Oct. 21 KSD school board meeting, Board Member Michael Connors said Kennewick was seeing some of the "worst" academic performance and grade marks in years, if ever. Kennewick, as well as Richland and Pasco and others, are seeing an alarming rise in failing students. Facebook and other social media are littered with parents detailing how their successful A and B children are now struggling.
Richland has just announced they are bringing in failing students for in school tutoring, especially at the middle and HS level.
It is for these reasons, as well as what the public believes is indecision and even 'ineptitude' on the part of the school boards when it comes to getting children back to at least hybrid in person schooling, that many parents say they are pursuing private or other alternative education programs-- including at home schooling.
We reached out to the Communications PR Directors at Richland, Pasco and Kennewick Districts and asked if they've seen a noticeable drop in enrollment since the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year, and if it's due to parents 'withdrawing' children.
There's a lot of factors that figure into this. For one, statewide, hundreds of incoming Kindergarten students did not enroll, their parents wishing to wait one more year when they hope COVID is in the rear view mirror. But the state has seen enough of a drop in overall enrollment that Federal funding could be reduced (It's based upon your total number of students).
In Kennewick, we were told when a student leaves the District, there isn't a specific "unenrollment" process, the student simply withdraws. Robin Chastain, Director of Communications and PR, told us Monday there area 527 fewer students now than there were same time last year (2019-2020 school year).
One must take into consideration Kindergarten numbers here do reflect what is happening statewide, as well as other factors.
In Richland, Communications PR Director Ty Beaver told us there are 447 fewer students than what was planned. He told us in his email:
"Please note that these figures do not represent individual students, as not all our students attend school on a full-time basis for a variety of reasons (Running Start, Three Rivers HomeLink, participation in special education programs, etc.), but the cumulative amount of student instructional services being provided."
We have not heard back yet from Pasco. While there are factors previously mentioned that affect these enrollment numbers, it is likely at least some of these decreases would be due to parents withdrawing their students to pursue alternative or private schools or education programs. Those exact numbers, however, appear to be much more difficult to determine.
We do know, as far back as mid-summer, that our area private schools such as Tri-Cities Prep, Liberty Christian, St. Josephs and others saw signifiant increases in enrollment and overall interest from parents.
When we hear from Pasco we will update our information.