Enrollment has dropped by 182 students, or 4.7%, since last year at the North Platte public schools, Operations and Finance Director Stuart Simpson told the school board Monday.

As of Oct. 1, the district had 3,702 students, compared with 3,884 at this time a year ago.

The biggest drop came at Washington Elementary, 36 students, followed by Lincoln (29) and Jefferson (27) elementary schools.

School board member Matt Pederson said the drop is not so much from option students as it is from young families moving out of town.

Pederson said young families leaving is a common problem that must be taken seriously, and one that the school district cannot solve alone. He said 70% of those who left the school district last year also left the community, if not the state.

“We need to do something (to bring people to North Platte,)” he said. “This is a call to action.”

The number of students has dropped at North Platte’s two middle schools as well as high school, but not by as much as either Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln. This year there are 20 fewer middle school students and 15 fewer high school students, so enrollment there is relatively stable.

Simpson said the lower enrollment also means North Platte will receive less state aid, and it also could put North Platte in Class B athletics and activities next school year, depending on how the Nebraska School Activities Association categorizes the classes.

He said North Platte has about 250-60 students per grade, compared to the Class A standard of 300 students per grade.

Simpson expects the NSAA to set the classes by the number of students in grades 9, 10 and 11.