GONZALES, Calif. (KION) La Gloria Elementary School in Gonzales has seen a sharp decline in enrollment since the start of the pandemic.
In a letter to parents, Principal Mark Demrick said the school will move several teachers around and create new classrooms to balance out grade levels.
Gonzales Unified School District Superintendent Yvette Irving told KION that the district has lost 42 Kindergarten students than what they've seen in previous years.
“When you look at distance learning it is also very difficult for a child that is 4.5 or 5 to spend 2 hours in front of a computer screen and so, I think, given these options, parents have decided to keep their children at home. Kinder is not a required grade level,” Irving said.
The district is currently doing distance learning for students, except for a small number of students that come to campus for child care and help with learning challenges.
We're also learning a handful of other schools across the Central Coast have low enrollment levels this year as well.
KION reached out to district officials and found that the following schools saw a decrease in student enrollment from last year to this year:
La Gloria Elementary School in Gonzales saw a 28 percent decrease in the number of Kindergarten students. Pacific Grove Unified School District saw about a 3 percent lower enrollment than their totals at this time last year. Santa Rita Union School District in Salinas saw about a 4 percent decrease in enrollment. Officials said they have approximately 150 less students than their total number last year.
Officials we spoke with largely believe these lower enrollment levels are caused by challenges from the pandemic: including distance learning and more parents shifting to homeschooling.
Enrollment and attendance levels help make sure students are coming to school and getting their education, but attendance also helps determine how much state funding district’s receive.
There are some changes this year but it’s something schools are still keeping an eye on.
“In a regular year, with in-person instruction, we are funded based on ADA, 'average daily attendance,'” Soledad Unified School District Associate Superintendent for Educational Services Randy Bangs said. “This year under SB 98, we are not going to be apportioned or funded based on attendance.”
Soledad Unified School District tells us their enrollment levels are steady with a slight increase.