According to The Fresno Bee, there may be one California city where school enrollment isn’t on a steady decline — their own.
“Enrollment in California schools dropped again this year by roughly 1.8% — but not in Fresno County, where enrollment marginally increased, according to new data released by the California Department of Education. Fresno County schools appear to be bucking those trends with more stable enrollment numbers.
Total K-12 enrollment in Fresno County increased slightly by 0.26%, from 205,480 in the 2020-21 school year to 206,018 in 2021-22. Three of Fresno County’s largest school districts saw similar trends. K-12 enrollment in Fresno Unified increased from 72,419 in 2020-21 to 72,455 in 2021-22, or by roughly 0.05%. Clovis Unified enrollment dropped by about 0.2% from 42,790 to 42,699. Central Unified also dropped by 0.08%, taking enrollment from 15,742 to 15,729.
Nancy Akhavan, an associate professor at Fresno State’s Kremen School of Education and Human Development, said that Fresno’s steadier enrollment numbers might have something to do with mobility — or, in the Central Valley, a lack thereof. In more affluent parts of California, especially along the coast, more people can afford to relocate or transition to homeschooling in search of a better education for their children. But in places like Fresno, where the poverty rate tends to be higher, that flexibility isn’t there. ‘They have options that people who are in low socioeconomic status jobs don’t have,’ Akhavan said.
At the same time that it may be harder for families to leave the central San Joaquin Valley, there appears to be an influx of people leaving expensive coastal cities for inland areas like Fresno, said Edgar Zazueta, the new executive director of the Association of California School Administrators.”
The idea of socioeconomic status and how it relates to lifestyle mobility is an interesting discussion that’s worth looking at when it comes to school enrollment. What some see as a disadvantage, we see as an opportunity in Fresno for more funding towards student resources as well as enrichment programs to maintain and serve their steady student population. Who knows, maybe the next generation of super gifted students will be coming out of Fresno!
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