California public schools are reporting large drops in student enrollment.
New research from the Department of Education says this year's enrollment dipped by 1.8% percent, resulting in $110,000 lost in revenue from student enrollment in the last school year alone. In the first year of the pandemic, public school enrollment dropped by 2.6%, with 9,000 more students enrolled in private schools this year. That's a 1.7% increase, but that number still does not explain the mass exodus from public schools. California Charter Schools Association President Myrna Castrejón said this decline illustrates how charter schools “are facing the same statewide challenges as non-charter public schools.” She has called for equitable funding for charters.
The same report also shows that charter school enrollment also is also down for the first time since at least 2014, while kindergarten enrollment is up but still not hitting the pre-pandemic numbers. The DOE says these numbers reflect the pattern seen growing in the state over the last five years, and lawmakers have been working on legislation to try and combat the falling numbers. In his proposed budget, Governor Gavin Newsom reports he would allow school districts to use a 3 year average attendance rate to calculate next year’s funding. This could help substantially, especially because attendance at most schools plummeted during this year’s omicron surge.