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Tulsa eclipses OKC as largest public school district in Oklahoma

Tulsa Public Schools has become the largest traditional public school district in Oklahoma.

It took the top spot from Oklahoma City in a fall 2021 student census.

According to the Oklahoma State Department of Education’s student count, Tulsa has 33,211 students compared to Oklahoma City’s 32,086 students. The numbers are based on enrollment on Oct. 1, 2021.

Both totals are a far cry from what enrollment looked like pre-pandemic during the 2019-20 school year. OKC has lost more than 10,000 students in that time period and Tulsa has lost more than 5,000.

Much of that loss can be attributed to the state no longer counting charter schools’ student population in their sponsors’ totals.

But still, both districts have lost many students because of the pandemic, especially in early grades. The state did see a slight rebound in pre-k and kindergarten students, though with an increase of 921 kindergartners and 866 pre-k students.

Overall, enrollment in the state’s public schools grew with 698,696 students, up from 694,113 students last year. That’s still not up to pre-pandemic total enrollment of more than 700,000.

StateImpact Oklahoma is a partnership of Oklahoma’s public radio stations which relies on contributions from readers and listeners to fulfill its mission of public service to Oklahoma and beyond. Donate online.

Robby Korth grew up in Ardmore, Oklahoma and Fayetteville, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Nebraska with a journalism degree.
StateImpact Oklahoma reports on education, health, environment, and the intersection of government and everyday Oklahomans. It's a reporting project and collaboration of KGOU, KOSU, KWGS and KCCU, with broadcasts heard on NPR Member stations.
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