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Sharp enrollment losses in lower grades raise more concerns about El Paso population growth

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The number of El Paso County children enrolling in kindergarten through second grade has dropped precipitously in the last seven years, further evidence that El Paso’s once-robust population growth has stalled.

El Paso County schools – including both traditional school districts and charter schools – had 34,603 students enrolled in kindergarten, first grade and second grade this year, according to data released in March 2019 by the Texas Education Agency. That’s down more than 5,000 from the 2011-12 enrollment in those grades, according to TEA records, a decline of 13%.

Only one traditional school district in El Paso County – Canutillo Independent School District in the western part of the county – has seen an increase in K-2 population in the past seven years. Canutillo’s K-2 population grew by 88 students to 1,345 this year, or 7%.

Even Socorro ISD, long described as a growing district on the eastern edge of El Paso’s city limits, is experiencing a population decline among its youngest students, according to TEA data. Socorro enrolled 8,758 students in K-2 last year, down 317 from 2011-12, a 3.5% drop.


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Robert Moore

Robert Moore is the founder and CEO of El Paso Matters. He has been a journalist in the Texas Borderlands since 1986. His work has received a number of top journalism honors including the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award, Pulitzer Prize finalist and the Benjamin C. Bradlee Editor of the Year Award. Moore’s work has appeared in the Washington Post, Texas Monthly, ProPublica, National Public Radio, The Guardian and other publications. He has been featured as an expert on border issues by CNN, MSNBC, BBC, CBC and PBS.

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