Many school districts throughout California have been facing declining enrollment and the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District (SMMUSD) is no exception.
The District’s Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources, Michael Matthews, reminded the School Board at their January 15 meeting that declining enrollment projections for the 2008-2009 school year caused the District to adjust their permit policy to allow more students from outside the District to attend school here. This adjustment allowed the District to receive more ADA (Average Daily Attendance) funding from the state.
In order to aid them in future permit policy and other decisions, the Board has once again hired a consulting firm, DecisionInsite, to help them make enrollment projections. One of their partners, Dean Welfogel, presented the Board with their enrollment forecast on January 15. Matthews emphasized before Welfogel’s presentation that his firm “is able to utilize information we don’t have access to.”
Welfogel noted that the kindergarten enrollment in the District has been relatively stable in the last few years but there was a slight increase this year. There has also been a historical decline in students who remain in the District in 9th grade, possibly because of those families who are placing their children in private schools at that time. But this year this was not observed, possibly because of the deteriorating economy.
Welfogel also mentioned the number of out-of-district permit students in the District has remained relatively stable. This year there were 1,614 such students. In addition, his firm does not project that new housing development will over the next few years cause an enrollment increase in the District. However, it might later on.
Decision Insite’s conservative estimate projects that in five years the District will have 94 percent of the students it has now (10,411 students). Their less conservative estimate predicts that the District will have 103 percent of its current students (11,501 students).
Estimates were also given for significant changes in student enrollments for specific school sites. In five years, DecisionInsite projected a 49 percent drop in enrollment for Point Dume Elementary School, a 23 percent drop for Juan Cabrillo Elementary School and a 23 percent drop for Webster Elementary School. All three of these schools are in Malibu. During the same time period in Santa Monica, they predicted a 20 percent increase for John Muir Elementary School and 18 percent for McKinley Elementary School.
After the report presentation, Matthews stated that the Board would be receiving information on “the way things were trending at each school” and on the staffing projections for next year for their February discussion on the District’s permit policy.