Underutilized public school facilities means that there are seats available to enroll additional students in the building. 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, school districts offering neighborhood schools (or "schools of right") typically have some seats available to accommodate increases in population.
In SY21-22, the number of total public school unfilled seats was 35,665. Unfilled seats has increased sharply since SY19-20, likely due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Similarly, by sector, the number of unfilled seats for DCPS and public charter schools also increased this year reaching 21,777 and 13,888 unfilled seats, respectively (which includes schools that have not enrolled their full intended grade spans and excludes colocated schools).
Public School Facilities Unfilled Seats, SY13-14 to SY21-22
Users can now select four different geographies - Comprehensive Plan planning areas, wards (2022 and 2012 boundaries), and neighborhood clusters - to view public school facility unfilled seats. By planning area, the number of unfilled seats in public school facilities was greatest in the Far Southeast and Southwest area and the Far Northeast and Southeast area. By neighborhood cluster, the majority of unfilled seats were in Congress Heights (Cluster 39). By sector, Deanwood and Lincoln Heights (Cluster 31) and Congress Heights (Cluster 39) have the greatest number of unfilled DCPS seats, while Congress Heights (Cluster 39) and Fort Totten (Cluster 19) have the largest number of unfilled public charter school seats.
Unfilled Seats of Public School Facilities by Varying Geographies, SY13-14 to SY21-22
The state-level accountability system, the School Transparency and Reporting (STAR) Framework, is designed to provide schools with multiple pathways to demonstrate their performance and success. Depending on the specific grade configuration of a school, the STAR framework includes a list of metrics representing academic performance, academic growth, school environment, English language proficiency, graduation rates (for high schools and alternative schools), and educational progress (for alternative schools). Each school is provided an overall star rating, with one STAR being the lowest and five the highest. Data are as recent only as of SY18-19, as the STAR rating was suspended for SY19-20 and SY20-21 due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
In SY18-19, facilities across both sectors rated as either 4 or 5 STAR had the fewest number of unfilled seats (hover over the interactive graphic online to see the number). The most unfilled seats across sectors were located in facilities with 2 STAR rated schools. The next greatest amount of unfilled seats in DCPS facilities were those with 1 STAR rated schools, while for public charter schools facilities it was in facilities with 3 STAR rated schools.
Public School Facilities Unfilled Seats by STAR, SY17-18 to SY18-19
Notes: - This dashboard allows the user to view this analysis with and without DCPS portable capacities (or temporary classrooms). - Schools that are growing a grade each year can be excluded from the analysis, since it may not provide an accurate representation of their unfilled seats. - Schools that are overcrowded 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. - Capacity and unfilled seats for SY21-22 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. - Capacity for SY13-14 through SY20-21 is for an entire LEA located within the facility. For SY21-22, capacity is split across grade bands (typical PK-5th, 6th-8th, and 9th-12th grade bands) proportional to their 1-year enrollment projections. - The grade band filter has been temporarily removed while the underlying data is revised to proportion capacity along grade band lines. See the downloadable dataset for more information on which schools fall under each grade band. - Capacities for DCPS schools that are swinging due to modernization are not reported. - STAR ratings are as recent as of SY18-19 due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic; therefore, the facility data for these graphics are also only as recent as SY18-19. - Facilities that are “multi-STAR” are facilities that have multiple schools in a facility with different STAR ratings. - Facilities with no STAR rating include schools that did not receive a rating because they were either a new school, had a particular grade configuration that is not rated, or their enrollment was too small. Source: OSSE Audited Enrollment, SY13-14 to SY21-22; DCPS and public charter LEA capacities (collected by DC PCSB)