October 19, 2021

Projected K-12 drops in enrollment pose immediate upheaval and decade-long challenge

MChe Lee on Unsplash

State forecasts 11.4% fewer students by 2031; LA and Bay Area to be hit hardest

The unexpected drop in statewide school enrollment last year of 160,000 students may prove to be a blip, ready to rebound as the coronavirus recedes. Or that one-year 2.6% drop could be an oversize harbinger of what demographers are predicting will be a decade-long enrollment decline in California.

The fiscal crisis may be a migraine now or a mounting headache later; the answer is not if, but when, according to Michael Fine, the state’s respected fiscal worrywart. He said districts would be wise to start planning now, and take action starting next year, to deal with what for many districts will be a substantial loss of revenue from a system that ties funding to the number of kids who show up to class every day.

“Take decisive action, the earlier the better,” Fine told district administrators last week. “The depth of pain you will feel relates to how much time you wait to address changing circumstances.”

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