Changing Utilization of Local School Districts in RI Cities and Towns

In 18 of 32 combined Rhode Island school districts, enrollment has been falling as a percentage of the population under eighteen. That means families are choosing non-district charter schools, private schools, or home schooling.
As the following chart shows, Cranston and Woonsocket are the only urban districts not losing community buy-in. Among the schools in the urban circle of Providence, a substantial portion of the decrease may have to do with the proliferation of charter schools and other non-district public schools in the area over the last decade. For the 2010-2011 school year, such schools claimed 4,636 students.
The percentages derive from enrollment figures available through the RI Dept. of Education and 2000 and 2010 U.S. Census data for population under 18. The possibility therefore exists that some of the difference may also be explained by an increase of children under 5 (kindergarten) or 18 and above, but still in high school. (Consistent data at the city/town level does not allow for more targeted analysis.)
The effects of these methodological shortcomings, however, are tempered by trends within the state. The population under 5 years old fell in Rhode Island, from 63,896 (6.1% of total population) in 2000 to approximately 56,856 (5.4% of total population). At the state level, therefore, the percentage of children under 18 who are also under 5 notched down from 25.8% to 25.4%.
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