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School District Foresees Continuing Enrollment Decline

The San Marino Unified School District is predicting a continued decline in student enrollment for the next two years, according to a report that was delivered at Tuesday’s school board meeting by Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources Linda de la Torre. The projections will be used to build the SMUSD’s 2020-21 budget and second interim financial report.
According to data provided, projected average daily attendance, or ADA, at SMUSD schools is expected to drop by almost 200 students to a total of 2,721 by the 2021-22 school year. ADA for the 2018-19 school year was reportedly 2,909, and for the 2015-16 school year — the first year that appears on the report — ADA was 3,054.
Schools are funded using ADA, which is defined as the total days of student attendance divided by the total days of instruction.
“San Marino is steadily projected to decline in enrollment,” de la Torre said. “It is not only the San Marino Unified School District; some [districts] are declining more than San Marino.”
She referenced declining birth rates — “the lowest since the Depression” — business closures and California’s general business environment as possible causes for the drop in enrollment. She also said that the Pasadena Unified School District is researching the closure of three schools and that Azusa is following suit.
Superintendent Jeff Wilson said that the projections represent “a current condition we are going to have to effectively manage going forward.”
“We have a tremendous reputation,” Wilson said. “I hope we can continue to attract families to San Marino. What we can control is creating programs that are very attractive.”
School board member Corey Barberie said: “We need more students … we don’t want to decline anymore.”
Meanwhile, board President C. Joseph Chang told The Tribune that “declining enrollment is happening everywhere, in every school district.”
“As a school board member, we need to make an effort to do all we can to increase enrollment,” Chang said. “The population has dropped. I think the San Marino Unified School District needs to find a niche and make education excellent to attract more people.”
Chang also said the district needs to “coordinate with the city to find a solution for the empty houses. Everyone needs to work together.”
Separately, Jason Kurtenbach, the district’s executive director of curriculum and instruction, provided the board with a brief update on the local control accountability plan. The goal of that plan, he explained, is to provide exceptional teaching and learning, exceptional outcomes, exceptional connections and exceptional financial sustainability.
Kurtenbach said the LCAP stakeholder committee will meet again in March before presenting its findings to the board.


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