Enrollment at Chicago Public Schools has dropped by 3.5 percent since last September, according to a preliminary count that shows a loss of about 13,000 students.
The loss is more than twice as large as district officials projected in July.
Some 8,181 of those students left CPS-run schools, which now count 294,967 students in grades K-12, according to numbers tallied from the 10th day of school.
Privately-managed charter schools have so far lost 6,600 students compared to last September, totaling 54,889 students — a loss of about 10 percent. Three charter schools left the district but remained open, though, accounting for about 1,000 of charters’ decline.
Some 195 schools have exceeded expected projections district officials released in July, but 306 fell short.
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. And last year, CPS picked up about 2,200 kids between the two counts.
Chicago Public Schools’ financial reputation took another hit from a major Wall Street credit ratings agency on Monday.
Moody’s Investors Service dropped the district’s bond rating further into junk status, lowering its view of the school system’s debt one notch to a B3 rating.
Moody’s cited a variety of factors for the downgrade. Among them: the district’s reliance on short-term borrowing, a “deepening structural deficit” and a budget “built on unrealistic expectations” of help from a state government with money woes of its own.
Word of the downgrade came on a day when the district announced budgets at about 300 schools would lose a total of $45 million because of enrollment declines, and the Chicago Teachers Union said its members authorized a strike if contract talks break down.