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Major drop in enrollment for California public schools

SALINAS, Calif. (KION-TV) -- According to the California Department of Education CDE, less than 6 million students are enrolled in public schools.

Enrollment hasn't been this low since the start of the 2000s, and has created concern for educators.

“Districts are funded based on the number of the students that are enrolled and based on their attendance rates," said Aldo Ramirez, Assistant Superintendent for the Salinas City Elementary School District.

The amount of money goes down but fixed costs remain the same, depleting funding even more.

“You’re still having to pay for electricity, for the building maintenance, for the management of the school," said Ramirez.

Meaning less school services for kids.

This current school year alone, statewide enrollment has dropped by more than 110,000 students with a 1.8% drop from last year.

“There are some districts in the state where they actually have to consolidate schools and close some schools down in order to be able to be fiscally solvent," said Ramirez.

This has also created bigger-sized classrooms.

"We know the bigger the class size the more difficult it is to provide a high-quality education," said Ramirez.

Some students have enrolled in private schools or have begun home schooling, but they don't amount to the majority of missing enrollment.

Some data speculates that because of the pandemic, more families have been forced to relocate.

Either for better job opportunities or because life in California has gotten too expensive.

The CDE has no clear answer on where this sudden drop in enrollment has come from.

"It's going to impact somewhere and that might be bussing, it might be school upkeep and other areas," said Ramirez.

School districts usually discuss their budgets at the beginning of the year and then continue to monitor them as the year progresses.

This issue has affected all grade levels.

Kindergarten is the only class that has seen a minor uptick in enrollment, but it still doesn't compare to pre-pandemic rates.

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Joronica Vinluan

Reporter/ Weekend Producer for KION News Channel 5/46

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