The Omaha Public Schools will soon have a new board and a new superintendent. The change will give OPS an opportunity to consider fresh ideas on tackling a key challenge: low student numbers at some OPS high schools.
World-Herald reporting by staff writers Jonathon Braden and Paul Goodsell has noted that at Benson, two-thirds of its area students opt to attend a different high school and Benson’s student body fills only half of the school’s capacity. It’s close to the point where Benson could lose its Class A status for sports and other activities.
In addition, enrollment at Northwest has slumped sharply but is beginning to rise. Omaha North recruits well, but its enrollment has been declining and is now about two-thirds of its 1997-98 peak. OPS has a key interest to promote all of its high schools and their strong points.
There is no easy solution, but worthy ideas are being discussed. These include making sure each school has an attractive magnet program (Benson is set to make progress on that score, with some career-focused programs set to begin), improved and earlier marketing efforts and addressing the transportation concerns of parents.
OPS has a lot on its plate, but the district’s leaders should make sure all schools receive needed focus.