Town Square

Pandemic-induced enrollment plunge persists for second year at local public schools

Original post made on Nov 19, 2021

As the pandemic drags on into a second year, enrollment is still down at local schools, an Almanac and Palo Alto Weekly data project shows. Local private schools appear to be benefiting and are reporting big jumps in applications.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, November 19, 2021, 1:38 PM


Posted by Dan Waylonis
a resident of Jackson Park
on Nov 19, 2021 at 2:26 pm

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The word "budget" was not mentioned all all. I assume that the budgets and staffing for the schools have shrunk commensurately with the decrease in students?

Posted by SC Parent
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Nov 19, 2021 at 3:13 pm

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All of the school administrators blame the enrollment decline on families moving out of the area due to the pandemic. But, when one family moves out, another one typically moves in (unless vacancies are suddenly through the roof). And private school enrollment is up, which doesn't support their claim. Why are none of them examining whether their policy responses to the pandemic had an impact on families withdrawing their kids from public schools? Oh, the hubris.

My experience with MVWSD leadership was just pandering and showed a complete lack of respect for parents, which is why my kids aren't going to district schools anymore.

Posted by Cyril
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Nov 19, 2021 at 3:47 pm

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The article actually states the budgets are unaffected as coming from property taxes which presumably will remain the same or grow since as SC Parent wrote, we're no really having a resident vacancy issue. :)
I agree the article fails to dig into the reasons why parents are opting for private schools as a result of the pandemic. I'm sure many more parents have considered doing so but just couldn't because they could not afford it.
MVWSD actually has been pandering to a small but vocal group of parents with their pandemic policies (e.g. desk shield etc.), just not the group behind the move described in the article...

Posted by LongResident
a resident of another community
on Nov 19, 2021 at 11:40 pm

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Applications to private school does not equal students attending private school. Kids can have applications at more than one private school and then maybe end up going to public school. The enrollment in private is very small compared to public. The enrollment drop is more likely due to the long established trend over 8 years or so of a declining birth rate. Every county in California is seeing fewer school age kids, with more effect in grades K-6 so far than in grades 7 -12. The high school districts will see a decline in enrollment as the birth decline bubble reaches the age of their students. The pandemic may have a relatively smaller influence on the decline.

As for MVWSD's contention that enrollment will rise due to new housing units (11,000 over 8 years), what about the 3000 new housing units that have ALREADY been being added over the past 5 years? It seems to have resulted in the enrollment holding level before finally starting to decline like other districts over the past 2 years. It could be that MVWSD will serve 5000 students in 10 years time, and certainly it's very likely that it might be serving only a modest increase, say 5500 students in 10 years. There are going to be more older apartments torn down as time winds on.

Posted by Mtn View Mom
a resident of Shoreline West
on Nov 20, 2021 at 6:19 am

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Excellent data collection and interactive charts! So glad to have a local paper that is doing real reporting! Keep up the great work!

Posted by SRB
a resident of St. Francis Acres
on Nov 20, 2021 at 7:28 am

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Great data analysis from local journalists. One small gripe, the numbers for Palo Alto should be broken down by elementary vs. high school students for better comparison with other non unified districts.

Posted by Mar
a resident of The Crossings
on Nov 20, 2021 at 12:09 pm

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The pandemic exacerbated trends that were already underlying previously - the housing affordability crisis is going to drive families out of the area, especially those with the youngest children. And the geniuses at LASD went and got a ridiculous bond to fund yet another school that no one wants to go to because it's north of El Camino. You can already see the headlines in the Mountain View Voice in 2027 - LASD Shuts Down Elementary School North of El Camino, in an effort to reduce operating costs in line with a much smaller student population. And yeah, private schools are having their moment in the sun because they are better suited to manage the pandemic (and the presence of covid in perpetuity) than the unionized schools and political school boards. If I had school age kids, I would definitely pull them out of public and put them in private if I had the means. And most likely, I would have the means or else I would've long moved out of this area.

Posted by Nora S.
a resident of Rex Manor
on Nov 20, 2021 at 12:16 pm

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Can someone explain to me why, with flat or dropping enrollment, MVWSD spent $25 million that it didn't have to open a new elementary school?

Posted by LongResident
a resident of another community
on Nov 20, 2021 at 3:03 pm

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Whole country seeing a declining birth rate. Whole state seeing declining population for school age that can be explained by that birth rate. Simply put the numbers are way more affected so far by the birthrate drop off in grades K-6 than 7-12. So it isn't because of housing affordability! High School age will be affected by the same drop off over the next 5-6 years. It won't be due to people moving then either!

Posted by Steven Nelson
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Nov 21, 2021 at 10:12 am

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Sure Nora S. (Rex Manor - Theuerkauf neighborhood school And Stevenson magnet school). The reason Trustees Ellen Wheeler, Greg Coladonato, Tamara Wilson, and myself voted to open a neighborhood elementary school in a unserved neighborhood (closed down Slater neighborhood school) WAS ... it was opened in an unserved neighborhood. Which now has most of the newest multi-family housing in MV. (East Whisman)

If you want to agitate and petition and organize to have the MVWSD Board to close down YOUR neighborhood school(s) - please follow the lead of Bob Weaver and his compatriots.