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GUSD Enrollment Trends

After months of deliberation, at the September 5, 2019 Board Meeting, the Gilroy Unified School District Board of Education voted to close Antonio Del Buono Elementary School (ADB) in the Summer of 2020. This was a very difficult decision for the Board and staff but was necessary to help balance the budget during difficult financial times.

The District’s enrollment has steadily dropped over the past few years and is projected to decline for many years to come. The decline of over 400 students in three years has resulted in a loss of revenue of about $5 million. Declining enrollment is now occurring in 25 school districts in Santa Clara and in most districts in the Bay Area. This decline is the result of many factors including a significant drop in the birth rate, the exodus of families to parts of the state and county with lower housing costs, and lower student generation rates from new housing.

Beginning in the fall 2020, students from ADB will attend either Luigi Aprea or Rucker Elementary schools. During the next 5-6 months, staff will work diligently to make the transition as smooth as possible.

For many years, the Gilroy Unified School District’s enrollment steadily increased, but that has changed.  In 2016, at the peak of enrollment, there were 11,509 students in Gilroy Unified schools.  By the fall of 2018, enrollment had declined to 11,101 students.  This downward trend exists throughout the County; 25 of 31 school districts are affected.  In Gilroy Unified School District, enrollment in our eight elementary schools has shown the greatest decline.

What does this mean for Gilroy Unified School District?  The loss of 400 students over two years represents $3.7 million in lost revenue.  The loss of this revenue makes it necessary to reduce expenditures for the 2019-20 school year by $3 million. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Superintendent's Advisory Committee on School Closures Meeting Updates (updated August 22, 2019)

August 2019-- At the August 22, 2019 Board Meeting of the Gilroy Unified School District, Assistant Superintendents Alvaro Meza and Paul Winslow presented an enrollment update and future enrollment projections.  Following the initial presentation, Superintendent Flores shared with the Board the recommendations of the Superintendent's Advisory Committee on Closing Schools.  The recommendation of the Committee is that if the Board of Education decides to close a school that they move forward with closing Antonio Del Buono Elementary.  It is important to note that at this point, no final decision by the Board has been made.  The recommendation by the committee has been presented and the Board will take the recommendation and corresponding data under consideration before their final decision is rendered at the September 19, 2019 Board Meeting.  To view the presentation to the Board, recommendations and discussions, please watch the video of the August 22, 2019 GUSD Board Meeting. 

June 2019-- At the June 13, 2019 Board Meeting of the Gilroy Unified School District, Superintendent Flores shared the data that was reviewed by the Superintendent's Advisory Committee on Closing Schools and talk about the process that has been followed to date.  At the August 22, 2019 Board meeting, Dr. Flores will share the Committee's recommendations for consideration by the Board.  School starts on August 14, 2019 and it will be helpful to this process to review next year's enrollment before finalizing a recommendation.

April 2019-- The Superintendent's Advisory Committee on Closing Schools has met three times (January 25, March 1 and March 28).   Two additional meetings are scheduled before the end of the school year.  The Committee will provide the GUSD Board of Education with an update at the May 30 or June 13 Board meetings.  The Committee's recommendations regarding whether to close a school, and which school or schools to consider for closure, will be shared with the Board of Education and public at the August 22, 2019 Board Meeting.  The School Board will discuss the Committee's recommendations and make a final decision at a Board Meeting in the fall of 2019. 

The Committee is advisory to the Board and will make an informed recommendation, but the School Board will make the ultimate decision using the information that is presented to them. If the Board votes to close a school, the school closure will occur in August 2020.  At this time, no school site has been identified by the committee for closure and no decision has been made about closing a school.

During the three meetings held thus far, the Committee has:

  • studied reports and charts relating to enrollment data for the eight elementary schools; 
  • discussed housing projects underway or planned in the City;
  • reviewed the conditions and costs of facilities;
  • analyzed transportation information;
  • studied where special programs are housed; and,
  • examined transfer data. 

Additionally, the Committee reviewed criteria recommended by the California Department of Education for making decisions about school closures. 

March 2019-- The Superintendent's Advisory Committee on Closing Schools met for the second time on March 1, 2019.  At this meeting, the Committee reviewed data that had been requested by the Committee at the prior meeting which included transfer data, where special programs are located, boundaries for elementary schools, and more.  The Committee discussed evaluation criteria to be applied to each elementary school and saw a presentation about the software that will be utilized by the Committee.

The Committee will continue to meet monthly through the end of the school year.  An update will be provided to the Board of Education by June (2019).  No decisions have been made about closing a school and no school has been identified for closure.

Superintendent's Advisory Committee on School Closures

As a result of this decline, the Board of Education has directed GUSD staff to explore the possibility of closing one of the eight elementary schools in the District.  GUSD Superintendent, Dr. Deborah A. Flores, has convened the Superintendent's Advisory Committee on School Closures.  The Committee is made up of representatives of every major stakeholder group in Gilroy Unified School District: the three bargaining units (GTA, CSEA, GFP), members of Cabinet and School Board, site administrators, parents and community members.  The committee is following the California Department of Education's guidelines for this process. If a school is closed, the closure would occur in August 2020.  The Board will consider the Committee’s recommendations (which are advisory), in August 2019 and make a decision by the fall 2019.  At this point in time, no decision has been made on whether to close a school and no school has been singled out for closure.   Ultimately, it is the decision of the school board to close a school.

There are a few key points to note:

  • The process of closing a school is a long one that involves a tremendous amount of community outreach and input.  
  • The projected timeline for a school closure is between 18-24 months.
  • At this point, the Committee has not identified a specific site for closure.  
  • All possibilities are being considered. 

What indicators are used to predict future enrollment in GUSD?

The primary method for predicting future enrollment in any school district is birth rate in the district's zip code.  Gilroy Unified School District employs a demographer who examines birth rate data in the 95020 zip code.  The birth rate in the State, County and Gilroy has steadily declined over the last five years.  Lower birth rates lead to smaller kindergarten classes in the future.  In Gilroy Unified School District, kindergarten classes have declined from a peak of 864 in 2006 to this year’s kindergarten class, which is 708.  As these smaller kindergarten classes have moved up through our elementary schools, the total enrollment has dropped at a number of our elementary schools. 

As large high school classes leave the district (the current senior class has 972 students) and small kindergarten classes (the current kinder cohort is 708) enroll the District will continue to decline.  In the past, new students to the District helped offset these numbers but that is no longer the case.

What is being done with empty classrooms?

Classrooms are used for regular instruction, specialized instruction and various functions (STEAM labs, Resource and Special Ed Services, Speech therapy, Power School, etc).  Classroom utilization is not the problem.  The last two years, declining enrollment has resulted in $3.7 million in lost revenue, making it difficult to continue to operate smaller campuses (or smaller class sizes) as costs are rising while revenues are falling.  

Where are families going if they're leaving Gilroy?

When families leave the district, staff inquire where they are moving.  Families have indicated that they are moving to less expensive areas of California or are leaving the State, moving to states in the Southwest and Northwest.  This is not unique to Gilroy.  This is happening all over the Bay Area and in Santa Clara County.

Has GUSD considered moving sixth grade students back to elementary school sites?

The current configurations of grades K-5 elementary and grades 6-8 middle schools was adopted by the Board of Education many years ago and there is no plan to change this.

Why does the CDE website say there are more students in GUSD than the District claims exist?

Enrollment numbers are based on two reports that must be filed with the California Department of Education annually – CBEDS in early October and P2 in mid-April.  The total enrollment indicated on these reports include almost 500 children who attend a charter school in Gilroy and should not be counted as part of GUSD’s enrollment.  These reports can be found online . The total enrollment for our district for the last five years are listed below;

School Year

October CBEDS

April P2 P2 ADA Increase/ Decline
2014-15 11,478 10,863 -5
2015-16 11,435 10,861 -3
2016-17 11,483 10,889 +28
2017-18 11,290 10,639 -250
2018-19 11,101   -189

If GUSD closes an elementary school, where will those students and staff members go?

There has been no decision to close an elementary school, and thus it is not possible to determine specifics at this early stage of the process.  Should the Governing Board take action on a school closure, such action would be taken in September 2019 and be effective for the 2020-21 school year.  The District would then begin planning where students and staff from the closed schools would move. 

Reference Information

California Department of Education: Closing a School: Best Practices Guide