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Public School Enrollment In California, Sacramento Declining

High school classroom

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Public school enrollment in Sacramento and California declining, especially in urban school districts.

According to official numbers, total school enrollment fell by 110,000 students last year to about 5.9 million. The drop is found to be most prominent in larger urban school districts such as Sacramento City Unified, where enrollment fell by about 2,800 students from 2019-20 to 2021-22, dropping to 43,800. The state’s declining enrollment numbers are mostly due to the pandemic, migration to the suburbs and other states, and a shift away from urban school districts. The decline in enrollment could have severe impacts on school funding as state schools receive money on a per pupil basis, and financially distressed school districts like Sacramento City Unified could eventually remove programs as a result of more students leaving urban schools and lower income areas.

In response, Democratic leaders in the Capitol are pushing multiple funding packages to help schools manage their declining enrollment. Governor Gavin Newsom has proposed a measure that would boost overall funding while maintaining the state’s current system for school financing. Another bill by Senator Anthony Portantino would raise school funding by ending a practice of docking funding when students miss classes or calendar dates. Urban school districts “are facing significant challenges,” Portantino said. “The after-effects of COVID means they certainly need the resources.”

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