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Eugene school district faces decline in enrollment

Karen Richards
Holt Elementary in September 2021. According to state data, student enrollment in Eugene schools shrunk for the second year in a row.

Attendance in Eugene’s largest school district declined again last year.

New data from The Oregon Department of Education shows there were over a thousand fewer students in Eugene 4J in 2021 than two years prior.

Oscar Loureiro is the Director of Research and Planning at Eugene 4J. He said enrollment has trended downwards since the 1990s, but the pandemic upended a period of recovery. Now, Loureiro believes that high costs of living may be pushing students away.

“In the past, we have seen enrollment that is below projection when rents in 4J for apartments or houses are out of whack with other districts.”

Springfield and Bethel School Districts saw gains in enrollment last year, although they were still below pre-pandemic numbers. Statewide, enrollment fell by nearly 30,000 from 2019.

The most severe losses were in kindergarten and first grade. In Oregon, schooling is optional for children under the age of six.

Nathan Wilk joined the KLCC News Team in 2022. He is a graduate from the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication. Born in Portland, Wilk began working in radio at a young age, serving as a DJ and public affairs host across Oregon.