Rising first graders work on a spelling activity during summer school
(Anne Wernikoff / CalMatters)
Latest News

Morning Lookout: County’s concerning school enrollment decline; call for housing bond

Hi folks. It’s Thursday, May 18, and Santa Cruz County should see mostly sunny skies and temps in the 70s and 80s once the marine layer burns off.

Lookout’s latest awaits; I’ll leave to you if you want to explore on your own or stick around for the tour.
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A big annual drop in enrollment in Santa Cruz County’s K-12 schools has officials worried, particularly since projections call for declines to continue amid affordability issues and changing demographics. Hillary Ojeda reports on what’s happening at both the county and district levels to plan for what’s coming.

Change is also coming to the local housing scene, and in Lookout’s Community Voices opinion section, advocate James Weller proposes a public subsidization fund to incentivize development of affordable housing options.

Indeed, housing is the focus Thursday night as Lookout correspondent Christopher Neely moderates a discussion on the housing squeeze in Santa Cruz County, part of Housing Santa Cruz County’s Affordable Housing Month programming. On hand for the Zoom session will be Santa Cruz Mayor Fred Keeley, Watsonville Mayor Eduardo Montesino, Scotts Valley Mayor Jack Dilles, Capitola Mayor Margaux Keiser and County Board of Supervisors Vice-chair Justin Cummings. Get more information here.

And now, about those headlines.

Enrollment drops sharply in Santa Cruz County public schools amid demographic changes, affordability woes

Backpacks hang outside a classroom at Main Street Elementary in Soquel.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

With Santa Cruz County’s K-12 schools seeing the largest annual decline in enrollment in almost 30 years, officials at the county and district levels are examining cost-saving strategies and ways to keep families in neighborhoods and to maximize resources. Read more from Hillary Ojeda.

RELATED: Pajaro Valley Unified School District in talks for property purchase for workforce housing

Toward a March 2024 housing bond measure in Santa Cruz

New housing going up in downtown Santa Cruz.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

James Weller, a local housing advocate, thinks he has an answer to our community’s most vexing issue, the fact that most of us cannot afford to pay the exorbitant cost of housing. The state has mandated Santa Cruz County build more, Weller writes, but developers won’t build unless they can make a profit by charging high rents. “But what if we had a public subsidization fund so we could pay developers some fraction of their marginal cost per unit” so that more units could be low-rent dwellings, he asks.”Maybe we could pay them enough to make a profit on the deal.” Find his Community Voices opinion piece here.

MORE OPINION: New housing is coming to our communities — be part of the process


Housing Month Ad

Upcoming events in Santa Cruz County

The Lost Boys feat. James Durbin @Bruno’s Bar and Grill
Tyler Rich @Felton Music Hall
CreateAbility Hour @Felton Branch Library
G Perico @The Catalyst
OS Muntates @Moe’s Alley
Pipe Down Official: Pipe Down w/ Koosh @Crow’s Nest Restaurant

Bike Month Community Ride @Watsonville Cyclery
#GOATyoga w/piglets @Beer Thirty Bottle Shop & Pour House
Fae Masquerade Ball @Brookdale Lodge
FALCON! with Kettle of Hawks @The Crepe Place
Afrobeats Nite Santa Cruz @Moe’s Alley
Poi Rogers @Fruition Brewing

Brown Babes Brunch with Dr. Terence Lester @Oswald Restaurant
Big Richard Band @Moe’s Alley
Hella Queer Market: Pride! @Greater Purpose Brewing Company
Mae Powell @The Catalyst
Poi Rogers @Malone’s Grille

Veteran Surf Alliance Memorial Day Paddle Out @Capitola Beach

OK, you’re fueled and ready to tackle Thursday. And if Thursday has you peering ahead to the weekend, well, Wallace Baine is here for you. That is, he will be, with his Weekender newsletter surveying Santa Cruz County’s arts and entertainment scene (complete with recommendations for things to do) coming soon. Click here to sign up for that and all of Lookout’s other newsletters, and take advantage of breaking news alerts via text and email, too. If you’re the social (media) type, follow Lookout on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Our content isn’t possible without community support, so if you’re not already, please consider becoming a Lookout member.

Keep it real, friends — see you next time.

Will McCahill
Lookout Santa Cruz