Fall in school attendance and funding
Even though California is bursting with cash, with surprising budget surpluses and massive infusions of federal funds, school districts across the state could soon be facing a serious budget crisis.
The reason is registration. He falls like a rock. According to figures released by the state in May, the state’s K-12 public school districts lost 160,000 students in the 2020-21 school year, a decline of nearly 3%. Kindergarten enrollment was worrying, with enrollment dropping 12%. The drop in kindergarten enrollment was 20% among African American students.
Even before the pandemic, the finance ministry estimated enrollments would decline by three-tenths of a percent. But of course, it got a lot worse when the classrooms were replaced with the Zoom School.
Districts filed their “Census Day Enrollment” numbers for the current school year on October 6. The data will be made public next year. An even steeper drop in registrations would not be surprising.
California ties funding to attendance, which means school districts with empty student desks but crowded faculty lounges could be forced to start printing pink slips as early as the 2022-2023 school year.
San Francisco and Los Angeles are perhaps the most at risk. San Francisco Unified lost about 3,500 students during the pandemic. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that the district is anticipating a funding cut of $ 35 million next year.
Los Angeles Unified has lost 27,000 students, a drop of 6%, since the 2020-21 school year. According to state estimates, Los Angeles is expected to lose 20% of its workforce over the next decade. Statewide, the average drop in enrollment is expected to be 8.7% by 2031.
Districts could avoid layoffs if the legislature made a last-minute change to the funding formula or extended the “keep under cover” protection that lawmakers enacted during the pandemic. This has frozen funding for schools based on the previous year’s enrollment, meaning that schools with increasing enrollment numbers, such as charters that have developed innovative distance learning models, don’t received no new funding for their new students, while schools with lower enrollment continued to raise money for students who were no longer in class.
State lawmakers could remove average daily attendance from the formula that determines state funding, a solution that West Contra Costa Unified Business Services Associate Superintendent Tony Wold told Edsource he argued. But others pushed back on the idea, including Angelica Jongco, deputy prosecutor at the public interest law firm Public Advocates, who said using average daily attendance was helping to hold schools accountable for the problem. ‘absenteeism.
We agree that it would be a mistake for the legislature to respond to both absenteeism and declining enrollment by concocting a budget solution that protects failing schools. State law says money follows the student. In the upheaval of the pandemic, lawmakers protected the paychecks of teachers and school staff in district schools at the expense of charter schools and the students they served.
While it can be argued that this was necessary on a temporary basis, it is time to get schools back to normal.
It is unreasonable to expect parents, students and taxpayers to sit idly by and watch state lawmakers send per-student funds to empty chairs to protect the jobs of school workers in buildings empty.
– Southern California Press Group