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Irving, Richardson schools face sliding enrollment, hard choices

08:21 AM CST on Sunday, December 9, 2007

Stories by STACI HUPP and KATHERINE LEAL UNMUTH / The Dallas Morning News
shupp@dallasnews.com; kunmuth@dallasnews.com

The Irving and Richardson school districts share one problem – declining enrollment. The demise of low-income apartment complexes plays a role for both. These stories look at how the districts are coming to terms with the loss of students, which could affect state funding, delay construction of new schools and even force closures at existing campuses.

Irving schools' enrollment shrinking; officials cite immigrant crackdown's effect
School officials said they don't know exactly why hundreds of students have disappeared since the district hit its peak enrollment of 33,189. But the losses outpace previous years. Last year, Irving schools lost 283 students during the same period. Superintendent Jack Singley said a city code-enforcement crackdown on declining apartments where many low-income families live may have caused people to leave town. And some immigrants may have left Irving because they feared deportation.

Richardson considering closing up to nine schools
A new report suggests closing up to nine public schools in Richardson, where new development and an older population have shrunk student enrollment in parts of the school district. Demographers say the district could do away with seven elementary schools and one or two junior highs in the next decade. While the report targets areas in the district instead of specific schools, it's not hard to see which buildings could be candidates for closing. Lake Highlands Elementary School has lost more than a third of its population since the fall of 2004 – the most severe drop among Richardson's 55 campuses.

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