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Fact or Fiction: Declining Enrollment

Fact or Fiction: Enrollment is Declining

Fact. From 2021 to 2022 enrollment has declined. Let’s review the data and Carmel’s population shifts to dispel false narratives about the performance of our school system. 

According to the U.S. Census, American Community Survey, the Carmel population subsets of children under 5 years of age and between 5 and 9 is declining for the city.

2019 Carmel, IN population
Under 5 years = 6,284
5 - 9 years = 7,201

2021 Carmel, IN population
Under 5 years = 4,966
5 - 9 years = 5,679


In October 2018, the Carmel Clay Schools published its Demographic Study Report at a board meeting and on our public website, which contains the following:

  • The primary factors causing the district's enrollment to decrease after the 2021-22 school year are the slowdown in the number of new housing units being constructed, a limited existing homes sales market in the district coupled with a rapidly increasing number of “empty nest” households.  
  • Changes in year-to-year enrollment over the next 10 years will primarily be due to smaller cohorts entering and moving through the school system in conjunction with larger cohorts leaving the system.   
  • Elementary enrollment will begin a slight but persistent decline after the 2019-20 school year. This will be due primarily to the fact that the rising 5th-grade cohorts most years will be greater than the 1,350 students in size. 

Detailed annual enrollment by grade level is available on the IDOE website. 

Understanding Kindergarten vs. 12th-Grade Enrollment:

  • In the past, the incoming Kindergarten classes were larger than the previous year’s graduating class. 
  • Since 2015, with only a couple of exceptions, the graduating class has been larger than the incoming Kindergarten class. 
  • Carmel High School Class of 2022 had nearly 1,400 graduates, while this year’s Kindergarten class was approximately 1,050. 

As demonstrated by the decline in the Carmel population for the age group, school systems are dependent on incoming younger students to replenish the graduating class. Carmel Clay Schools remains an A-rated, top-ranking district in the state.