Enrollment in the Strongsville School District is dropping at a significant rate, Superintendent John Krupinski said.
Krupinski told School Board members last week that there are 6,219 students registered this year -- 296 fewer than last year's 6,515.
"That is substantial," he said.
The biggest reason for the decline? All-day kindergarten. Krupinski said parents are enrolling their 5-year-olds elsewhere because .
His figures show there were 408 kindergarteners attending Strongsville in the 2006-2007 school year. This year, there are 262.
"That is an impact because of not having all-day kindergarten," he said.
While some parents who enroll their kindergartners elsewhere return to the Strongsville schools for first grade, many others do not, he said.
The district has held off on converting the traditional half-day kindergarten sessions to full day because of cost -- an estimated $500,000 -- and space.
Krupinski said if voters approve , it will clear the way for Strongsville to offer full-day kindergarten by freeing up space in the elementary schools when sixth-graders start attending a new middle school.
"I think the all-day kindergarten issue is paramount for us, looking into the future," he said.
That's not the only reason for declining enrollment.
Krupinski also noted decreases in students at each grade level at since the 2006-2007 school year:
9th grade -- 615 in 2006, 537 now
10th grade -- 642 in 2006, 601 now
11th grade -- 619 in 2006, 583 now
12th grade -- 582 in 2006, 569 now
An aging population with more empty nesters may explain the overall decrease.
"People have stayed in Strongsville after their families have grown up," Krupinski said. "We have grown up, whether you call it graying or maturing, it's happening."
U.S. Census figures show
Statewide, the median age is 38.8.
People 62 and older, who a decade ago made up 27.2 percent of the city's population, today account for 36.2 percent.