Private schools saw a 2% increase in students enrolled, from 168,184 students in February 2023 to 171,484 students in November 2023.
“There are more students enrolled in community schools, about 5,400 additional students in community schools this year compared to last fiscal year,” said Aaron Rausch, chief of budget and school funding for the Department of Education and Workforce (DEW), during a presentation on Nov. 21.
Career tech centers also saw an increase in enrollment of about 2,500 students this year compared to last year, Rausch said. In the Dayton area, that has been helped by recent construction of expanded facilities at the Miami Valley CTC and Greene County career centers.
According to Ohio Department of Education data, starting in 2013-2014, the number of kids enrolled in private schools decreased until 2021-2022, when enrollment rose to 167,395 students, compared to 162,917 students in 2020-2021.
Data from DEW suggests enrollment at traditional public districts has fluctuated recently. The lowest point in the last five years was the 2020-2021 school year, with about 1.49 million students enrolled in public schools. After bouncing back the following year, public schools saw another, smaller dip in 2022-23, falling by 3,554 students, according to the department’s data.
Private school vouchers were expanded this past summer so anyone in the state can qualify for at least 10% of the private school voucher amount. Families who make up to 450% of the federal poverty line, or about $135,000 for a family of four, can receive a full voucher (EdChoice Scholarship) for their child.
A high school voucher is worth up to $8,407, and kindergarten through eighth-grade students can get up to $6,165.
DEW is still working through a backlog of applications for private school vouchers after the expansion, and students are still enrolling at some charter schools.
Lacey Snoke, a spokeswoman for DEW, said existing private school enrollment likely includes many of the students with pending EdChoice applications that are part of the backlog.
Tess Mitchner Asinjo, executive director for Dayton Leadership Academies, a charter school in West Dayton, said enrollment at the school increased 4% over the last year.
She said more families were coming to the school who had been referred by another family and had heard positive experiences.
“Even in October and November, we enrolled new students whose families were looking for another option,” she said. “Some families shared with us that the reason they changed schools is due to a lack of teachers, not a positive school environment, or not enough programs offered for students.”
But not all charter and private schools have seen increases. The Dayton Early College Academy (DECA) High School, a charter school aimed at preparing students for college, was among those that did not see increases in enrollment this year, a spokeswoman said.