Fewer Students Equal Fewer Dollars as Student Enrollment Declines

By Brandon HENSLEY

Enrollment for schools in the Glendale Unified School District has decreased in recent years, according to numbers provided by the district.

From the 2003-04 school year to 2010-11, enrollment has gone from around 29,000 students to around 26,000. This year, enrollment was down 266 students. All numbers are for grades kindergarten through grade 12.

The decline in students has led to less money for GUSD. The district loses money for absent students or fewer students enrolled at a school. According to Eva Luek, chief business and financial officer, GUSD lost $1.4 million this year. Since 2003, it has lost about $5.5 million in revenue.

“It’s huge for us,” Leuk said of the decrease in students. “We’re budgeting to go down another 374 students in 2001-12.”

Deputy Superintendent Dr.  John Garcia confirmed. “We have experienced declining students district-wide … We do not have as many students coming into the schools as we did in previous years.”

The reason for that, he said, is mainly cyclical.

Students that graduate and grow up in the area don’t start families right away, and then they may move to another area. In time, Garcia said, new families come in with children and the process may start over again. He added that the process “ebbs and flows.”

“It’s just the pattern of students matriculating through the system,” he said.

Garcia also mentioned the instability of the housing market in the late 1990s and into the new century, but said the area’s housing patterns have stabilized so that is not a primary reason any longer.

Parents of students at Crescenta Valley High School, where student population is always strong, may not recognize the decline in students but this concern extends to all schools. Dunsmore Elementary, for one, regularly has lower enrollment than others.

“You need a reasonable amount of students to keep an elementary school running,” said Luek.

Dunsmore Principal Karen Stegman said that ADA – a term that means average daily attendance – is a concern.

“I have seen some decline,” said Stegman, who finished her second year as Dunsmore principal this month and has worked for GUSD previously. “I started in the district when we were really full. They were hiring teachers every month.”

Dunsmore’s enrollment is around 400 students. Stegman said enrollment has been “trickling in” this year. She agreed with Garcia that the problem is mostly cyclical and that maybe the best solution is to wait.

“We just know we want to increase our enrollment,” she said.

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