Counting kids and naming giraffes

Lincoln Public Schools officially counted children earlier this week and student enrollment in our school district continues to rise, with historic new highs this school year: 42,035 students are attending the school district in 2018-19, marking the first time enrollment has surpassed 42,000.

While any student growth is welcome, this year our 275-student increase slowed compared to previous years – in fact, the new total was 225 below our estimates.  In past years we have come in over our estimates.  And inquiring minds have asked – why?

By digging into enrollment trends over a multi-year period, we find that we are excellent at predicting live-birth rates and kindergarten enrollments. However, it is much more difficult to predict the growth at other grade levels – as students enter and leave LPS and our community. We do know that recent federal actions have limited immigration and refugee enrollment – and our English Language Learner numbers are down by a little over 100.  But we also know there are additional factors. It will be interesting to see what happens next year to determine if this is an anomaly or a trend. Either way, we excitedly welcome our newest students and families to LPS.

Meanwhile, who would have thought that naming a new baby giraffe could be so much fun?  We have an amazing Lincoln Children’s Zoo in our community – with a great leader, John Chapo – and we are proud to partner with them on a variety of causes.  This fall we joined together to name the giraffe. And on Wednesday, with more than 2,200 suggested names submitted by LPS first graders, I joined an all-school assembly at Meadow Lane Elementary School as the winning student, Iggy Malik, shared his winning giraffe name: Phoebe.  The scene in the gym was almost pandemonium as Chapo (president and CEO of the Children’s Zoo) and the zoo staff worked the kids into a frenzy in anticipation of announcing the winning name. Iggy will now forever get to boast that he was the one who named the zoo’s very first giraffe – when he was only in first grade.

Finally, believe it or not folks, first quarter is almost over.