One year ago, Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast impacting four states and creating one of the largest population displacements in U.S. history. In Louisiana alone some 800,000 survivors requested emergency evacuation. To comprehend the effect of such a disaster on the education of children, the EPE Research Center looks at the number of schools and students in Orleans Parish before and after Katrina in this Stat of the Week.
Prior to Katrina there were about 484,674 people living in Orleans Parish. Slightly more than 18% of them were children, six to 17 years of age. About 80% of these children were students in the public school system (U.S. Census Bureau sample 2000).
In the fall of 2004 there were over 100 public schools in Orleans Parish with an overall enrollment of about 65,000 students. On August 29, 2005 Katrina and the ensuing storm surge precipitated the closure of most schools for the 2005-2006 school year and the dispersion of the majority of students to other states throughout the country. That winter Orleans Parish School District had a mere 1,012 students on its rolls.
One year later the area faces significant challenges including providing schools to accommodate returning students. Fifty-three public schools, many of them charters, are opening their doors to the approximately 22,000 expected students.