As you may know, California school enrollment has been on the decline for the past ten years or so due to unaffordable housing as well as the high cost of living in the state. CalMatters recently reported on the data surrounding the shocking post-pandemic drop in California school enrollment. This is the first time in a century enrollment has been at such low levels:
“According to new data released by the California Department of Education, enrollment in public schools continues to drop more quickly than it did before the pandemic, stirring fears of more budget cuts and long-term financial instability for schools.
Among key takeaways from the newly released data:
- Statewide enrollment has dropped by more than 110,000 students to 5,892,240 during the current school year, a 1.8% dip from last year but less steep than the 2.6% decline during the first year of the pandemic.
- Charter school enrollment also is down for the first time since at least 2014.
- Kindergarten enrollment is up, though nowhere near pre-pandemic levels.
- And 9,000 more students are enrolled in private schools, a 1.7% increase, but that doesn’t explain much of the exodus from public schools.”
The article also states:
“Brett McFadden, superintendent of the Nevada Joint Union High School District, said a large portion of the residents in his rural community work in the service industry and had to seek other jobs when businesses closed during the pandemic. Others left more recently, as the state began enforcing masking rules and issuing vaccine mandates.” Personally, I think Senator Portantino’s (D – La Cañada Flintridge) proposed enrollment-based funding bill could work as a short-term solution, as it would pay districts on enrollment as opposed to attendance. You can read more about this bill here. I would also like to ask our state leaders and school districts how they are going to use all this funding to become more innovative? Just as many people have discovered they get more done working from home, perhaps there is a way for schools to use a hybrid education model. I know it would be amazing for my daughter to have that option; as a parent, I know what environment she learns best in. But unfortunately the current system is not adapting and we have no choices. It seems like a lot of families feel the same way – and maybe it’s no surprise they are choosing to walk away.
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