For the first time in many years enrollment has dropped in USD 443 Dodge City.

"Enrollment is down a little," said Fred Dierksen, USD 443 superintendent. "I’m trying to figure it out myself."

After years of increases — for instance the 2007-2008 enrollment was 5,836 students compared to last year’s enrollment of 7,053 — this year the number of students has dropped by 90 to 6,963.

"We have to go class by class to see where we’re down, but for the most part, it’s a few here and a few there," Dierksen said. "Ironically, the smallest class is our junior class, which has always been a small class from what I’ve been told.

"So, next year, the smallest class may be the senior class."

The junior class this year has 429 students, the fewest number of any class in USD 443. Last year the then sophomores had 456 students, a deficit of 27 from the year before for the class of 2019.

By comparison, last year’s junior class has gained nine students as seniors.

"There’s nothing we can point to as a reason for smaller numbers this year," Dierksen said. "We’d like to know why, but we don’t know."

A steady increase in enrollment and a need for more space at all schools prompted USD 443 to ask for a school bond issue to pay for expansions at most buildings. The dip in enrollment came as a surprise but is expected to be a 1-year surprise.

"I think we’ll go back up," Dierksen said. "It’s been steady for more than 10 years, and I guess it’d go back up next year."

A state audit of enrollment will take place later this school year

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Contact the writer at rbluhm@dodgeglobe.com.