LOS ANGELES – A mixture of factors, from families moving out of Los Angeles to decline in birth rates to drops in immigration are expected to lead to a reduction in enrollment in Los Angeles public schools by nearly 30% over the next decade, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times.
The Los Angeles Unified School District, the nation’s second-largest school system is facing tough choices about academic programs, campus closures, jobs and employee benefits because of the anticipated drop in enrollment.
The predicted drop in enrollment was outlined in a presentation to the Board of Education on Tuesday. School officials are evaluating the future of the district in regard to contract negotiations with the teachers union, which is seeking a 20% raise over the next two years, the Times reports.
“There are a number of unsustainable trends,” LAUSD Superintendent Alberto Carvalho, referring to declining enrollment and unstable funding, told the Times. “The perfect storm is brewing.
“Los Angeles Unified is facing an alarming convergence and acceleration of enrollment decline and the expiration of one-time state and federal dollars, as well as ongoing and increasing financial liabilities.”
Carvalho said there is “not an easy path toward financial stability” and warned the board that difficult conversations lie ahead.
Enrollment in Los Angeles Unified peaked at about 737,000 students 21 years ago and has been incrementally dropping since, the Times reports. Overcrowding was blamed for the quality of education and led to year-round operations of education with students on staggered schedules. As a result, 17 fewer days of instruction per year were provided and there was limited access to advanced classes.
According to the Times, the current enrollment in LAUSD is about 430,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade and is expected to fall about 3.6% a year to an estimated 309,000 nine years from now.
Declines are also expected over the next nine years in Los Angeles County (19%) and the state (9%), according to data presented at the meeting on Tuesday.