San Antonio Independent School District enrollment appears to have plateaued after years of decline, an SAISD official said at a school board meeting Tuesday night.

Student enrollment steadily dropped since 2000-01. Only two academic years since then showed an increase in enrollment, according to Texas Education Agency data.

On Tuesday, Patricia Baumer, the district’s executive director of the Office of Access and Enrollment Services, told trustees that SAISD is currently serving 48,652 students. Last year, SAISD’s schools enrolled 48,720 students, according to TEA data.

SAISD’s current enrollment, as measured on Oct. 4, is down from district projections by 124 students, Baumer said.

The difference from last year’s enrollment is less than 70 students – a significant number given the large decreases in student enrollment in recent years. From 2017-18 to 2018-19, SAISD lost close to 1,920 students. The year before, SAISD lost roughly 1,850 students.

During summer budget sessions, SAISD officials projected the district’s enrollment would grow by roughly 100 students year-over-year. SAISD added about 1,300 new seats in new programs or in campuses adding grades, meaning that even with the addition of new seats, students left for other public schools.

SAISD also measured reenrollment: the percentage of students who completed pre-K through 11th grade in 2018-19 who reenrolled this school year. About 87 percent of last year’s students in those grades reenrolled. The lowest return rates were at the early childhood and alternative school level.

The State takes an official snapshot of enrollment on Oct. 25. SAISD’s enrollment will likely fluctuate in the weeks leading up to this date, Baumer said. She predicted trustees will see enrollment is at a “more stable pace, and [SAISD] did not lose by the thousands.”

Baumer pointed to increasing charter school enrollment as the reason for SAISD’s enrollment drop-off in recent years. The number of students living in SAISD boundaries but not attending an SAISD school has increased since 2013-14. At that time, 7,719 students living in district boundaries attended other public schools. In 2018-19, 10,909 students living in SAISD enrolled elsewhere.

Close to three-quarters of students living in SAISD but not attending a San Antonio ISD school enroll at one of four charter schools including Brooks Academy, IDEA Public Schools, Jubilee Academies, or KIPP, Baumer said.

At the same time, more students living outside of SAISD boundaries are enrolling in SAISD. In 2014-15, 1,276 students from outside district boundaries enrolled in San Antonio ISD. In 2018-19, this number increased to 2,338, more than any other district in Bexar County.

Emily Donaldson reports on education for the San Antonio Report.