(Oct. 26, 2004) -- For the first time in a quarter century, the LB Unified School District has seen a decrease in elementary school enrollments -- down 1,554 students or 1.6% from last year -- which could end up costing the District roughly $7 million.
Even when balanced against higher high school enrollment (492 students more in grades 9 through 12), elementary school enrollment was down 1,646 students (K through 5th grades), middle schools down 26 students (6th through 8th grades) and Charter and special schools down 374 students.
Since CA taxpayers pay LBUSD $4,807 per student, that amounts to about $7 million less for the state's third largest school district.
LBUSD tells LBReport.com it anticipated the downtown and it is not an emergency. "We didn't overhire and we've already instituted steps to keep expenses in line," said LBUSD spokesman Dick Van Der Laan. Measures include not re-filling positions on retirements and the like.
The largest LB one-year enrollment decrease came in the 1st grade, with 439 fewer six year olds enrolling than last year. Kindergartens reported the smallest total enrollment in elementary schools--513 students below first grade enrollment. Until elementary enrollment bottoms out, LBUSD says it expects its enrollment to continue to decrease.
Total enrollment in the LB Unified School District, the state's third largest, is now 95,483 students, down from last year's 97,037.
"With enrollment down in elementary schools and flat at middle schools, it appears that the past decade's bulge in elementary school enrollment has now moved up into high schools. High schools here remain among the largest in the state. Several are at or near their capacity," said LBUSD in a written release.
On the brigher side, the District said lower enrollment means LBUSD "has alleviated overcrowding in elementary schools and should be able to accommodate all students in the years immediately ahead. Many elementary schools for the first time have been able to reduce class size in fourth and fifth grade. If enrollment remains at or near the present level, school bonds from Measure A, approved by local voters in 1999, will allow enough schools and classrooms to be built to further reduce overcrowding and busing," the District release added.
LBUSD says it isn't alone in seeing a halt to more than two decades of enrollment growth; other CA school districts report significant enrollment declines. "Contributing to the school enrollment change are the current state budget crisis, slow job recovery, and young families with children being priced out by the booming Southern California housing market. Some are buying more affordable homes elsewhere," LBUSD said in its release.