April 20, 2022
State Superintendent Tony Thurmond Announces Creation of Task Force to Combat Declining School Enrollment
SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond announced a new effort to support and improve a systemwide approach to addressing the challenges of declining student enrollment in the state of California with the creation of a new task force.
Nationwide data show that declining enrollment plagues public schools across the country and recent figures released by the California Department of Education (CDE) show that California is no exception. Unlike many other states, California is a local control state, which means that local communities have a greater role in shaping local spending and program decisions. In practice, California school districts are looking into their own ways to best respond to the funding drops that correlate with dwindling enrollment that is afflicting the state as a whole.
“I am committed to supporting the needs of all our schools and school districts and while each school and community has its own unique history and conditions, declining enrollment is something that we are facing together,” said Superintendent Thurmond. “For many communities, this is not a new challenge, but after two years of a pandemic, the impacts feel amplified and the future seems daunting. I want this task force to be intentional about understanding the why behind the drops and the sharing of ideas and local efforts that we may contemplate scaling to make a real difference.”
Task Force Co-Chairs:
- Dr. Lande Ajose, Vice President and Walter And Esther Hewlett Chair In Understanding California’s Future, Public Policy Institute of California
- Jeff Freitas, President, California Federation of Teachers
- Dr. Edgar Zazueta, Executive Director, Association of California School Administrators
- Tatia Davenport, Chief Executive Officer, California Association of School Business Officials
The task force will take up the issue of declining enrollment and offer recommendations and technical assistance to districts to help offset the challenges it poses. Under the leadership of Superintendent Thurmond and the co-chairs announced today, the task force will focus on data analysis to understand trends related to the decline, including from which districts students are leaving and to where they are going. The task force will also investigate relevant data including birth rate, immigration, and housing costs that have been shown to influence population fluctuations, specifically the declines that are being observed in a number of urban areas statewide.
To date, the CDE and Thurmond have led preliminary efforts to help districts offset declining enrollment. These include securing grants to help Oakland Unified and Inglewood Unified address issues related to chronic absenteeism, specifically supporting outreach efforts of students who became disengaged from school during the pandemic.
Thurmond is currently sponsoring and pursuing legislation that is believed to be able to help districts access immediate resources to help offset declining enrollment. These include AB 1614 (Muratsuchi) to increase the base of funding schools received through the Local Control Funding Formula, and SB 830 (Portantino) to provide an increase in funding for schools based on their enrollment as opposed to their attendance numbers. Thurmond is also sponsoring SB 952 (Limón) that will provide funding to existing schools to convert to dual language immersion schools. Recognizing that dual language immersion programs are popular offerings among parents, this effort is one more way to steer families back to California schools.
Superintendent Thurmond encourages those who wish to learn more about the task force or share ideas on enrollment to please email Enrollment@cde.ca.gov.
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Tony Thurmond —
State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Communications Division, Room 5602, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100