APS drops Racially Identifiable School designation on Sumner Elementary

Published 6:50 pm Tuesday, March 12, 2024

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Austin Public Schools has become more racially balanced according to a recent announcement at Monday night’s School Board meeting.

Dr. Joey Page announced that Sumner Elementary School was no longer considered a Racially Identifiable School (RIS) under the state’s Desegregation/Integration rules, a classification that’s put on a school when the enrollment of protected-class students, or students in a racial minority, is more than 20% compared to the number of protected-class students within the district.

The drop of the designation is attributed to fall enrollment data for this year showing that enrollment across the district has risen. In particular, the district has shown a growth of nearly 80 students since the second week of January alone.

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“We are at the highest enrollment in March that we’ve had in 20 years,” Page said.

Sumner was designated a Racially Identifiable School in 2012, and was back and forth in that designation until 2017. Since then the school has remained as such until this year.

Page explained that part of the reason for that designation was that prior to this year, APS enrollment was fairly open, meaning that families could choose to send their children to other schools outside of their neighborhoods.

Recently, the district made the decision to adhere to attendance boundaries, meaning that families living in those boundaries were required to attend schools within those boundaries.

Part of the reason for adhering more to attendance boundaries was twofold, including an effort to balance school populations to account for diversity overloads as well as evening out school attendance.

“Before we looked at diversity it was building utilization,” Page said. “We had a really big imbalance of elementary schools just on enrollment numbers. Some were over-utilized and others were underutilized.”

The jump in enrollment is also an indication of progress the district has made in recovering from COVID-19 pandemic.

“We were just a little bit under 5,300 students in 2019-2020,” Page said. “We’re just a few students away from that. It’s a good thing that our enrollment is growing.”

“We’re really excited about the work we’re doing in the school district from attendance, welcoming back kindergartners into our elementary schools,” He continued. “They are great indicators of what our schools are doing.”