After revealing surprise enrollment jump, PVUSD says student population might have actually dropped by 675
Last week, Pajaro Valley Unified School District said total numbers for its schools appeared to show about 500 more students enrolled this year than expected. But upon closer look, officials say they accidentally included dependent charter schools in the district’s total enrollment figures. Interim Superintendent Murry Schekman said the realization the district’s enrollment was in fact continuing on a downward trend is frustrating and makes planning for the district difficult. Schekman sees cost of living as the primary driver for the trend.
A week after Pajaro Valley Unified School District officials reported that enrollment had unexpectedly increased this year, the district’s interim superintendent is now saying that he reported the numbers incorrectly and that its student population might have actually declined by nearly 700.
As of Monday, the total enrollment for the district was 14,673 — representing a decline of 675 from last year’s 15,348 students.
Last week, Pajaro Valley Unified School District said total numbers for its schools appeared to show about 500 more students enrolled this year than expected. But upon closer look, officials say they accidentally included dependent charter schools in the district’s total enrollment figures.
Charter schools have their own budgets based on their own attendance, meaning that their enrollment numbers don’t factor into the public school district’s annual budget. The enrollment figure that Lookout reported last week included the charter schools.
“I was handed info that included our charters and some errors in data entry,” Interim Superintendent Murry Schekman wrote in an email to Lookout.
The district projected it would enroll almost 15,200 students this year, but it has so far fallen well short of those projections. It is common for enrollment to fluctuate during the first month or so of the school year, so the number is likely to change.
“Enrollment is not over projections at this time,” district spokesperson Alicia Jimenez said via email. She added that the figures represent only K-12 public school students and exclude charter schools, early education and adult education figures.
District officials said the enrollment decline is across the board and that no specific schools had experienced a significant drop in the number of students. Schekman said schools such as Pajaro Middle School that were hardest hit by the March 11 breach of the Pajaro River levee and the flooding that followed haven’t seen comparatively larger declines than other schools.
Last week, officials said they weren’t sure why the initial figures were much higher than expected, pointing to positive trends in graduation rates and a return to normalcy post-pandemic.
This week, Schekman said that the realization the district’s enrollment was in fact continuing on a yearslong downward trend is frustrating and makes planning for the district difficult.
Schekman said he sees cost of living as the primary driver for the trend. “Families are migrating out of California at a faster rate due in part to affordability concerns,” he wrote in an email. “Private school enrollment increased during the pandemic and some families remain in those schools. Charter schools, dependent and independent, are also a factor.”
Schekman said he’s planning a study session about declining enrollment with the district’s board and the public to discuss how to move forward.
Have something to say? Lookout welcomes letters to the editor, within our policies, from readers. Guidelines here.