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Office of the Deputy Mayor for Education

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Unfilled Seats

Underutilized public school facilities may have seats available to enroll additional students in the building while overutilized schools have less flexibility with space and have to manage space constraints. Large numbers of unfilled seats indicate low enrollment in comparison to the size of the building or that a new school has not fully enrolled to their maximum grade. Also, DCPS neighborhood schools (or "schools of right") typically have some seats available to accommodate increases in population while citywide schools (or schools that enroll exclusively via the common lottery) typically aim to have enrollments closer to 100% utilization.

In SY2023-24, the number of total public school unfilled seats was 32,503. This remained relatively stable over SY2022-23 both in total and by sector.

Public School Facilities Unfilled Seats, SY2013-14 to SY2023-24

Users can select four different geographies - wards, DCPS high school boundaries, Comprehensive Plan planning areas, and neighborhood clusters - to view public school facility unfilled seats. In SY2023-24, Ward 8 had the greatest number of unfilled seats across public school facilities (9,716) whereas Ward 3 had the fewest (986).

Unfilled Seats of Public School Facilities by Varying Geographies, SY2013-14 to SY2023-24

- Schools that are growing (i.e. growing a grade each year) can be excluded from the analysis, since it may not provide an accurate representation of their facility utilization. 
- Schools that have utilizations over 100% do not count as negative "unfilled seats"; these seats are set to zero. Therefore, subtracting enrollment from capacity 
  (from previous visualizations) may not always equal the listed number of unfilled seats.
- The methodology to collect capacities for DCPS schools was revised for the Master Facilities Plan 2023 and may not be directly comparable to data before SY2022-23. 
See the Master Facilities Plan 2023 for more information. 
- See the downloadable data file notes to learn how programmatic capacities for public charter schools and DCPS capacities before SY2022-23 are disaggregated across grade bands. 
- Capacities and unfilled seats for public charter schools in SY2021-22 may not be directly comparable to capacity in previous years. Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, some public charter LEAs may have reported a lower capacity for their facilities that was in line with social distancing guidelines. 
- Capacities and unfilled seats for DCPS schools that are swinging due to modernization are not reported. 

Source: OSSE Audited Enrollment, SY2013-14 to SY2023-24; DCPS and public charter LEA capacities (collected by DC PCSB)

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