GUSD Enrollment Trends
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.
- Superintendent's Advisory Committee on School Closures Meeting Updates
- Superintendent's Advisory Committee on School Closures
- What indicators are used to predict future enrollment in GUSD?
- What is being done with empty classrooms?
- Where are families going if they're leaving Gilroy?
- Has GUSD considered moving sixth grade students back to elementary school sites?
- Why does the CDE website say there are more students in GUSD than the District claims exist?
- If GUSD closes an elementary school, where will those students and staff members go?
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.
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. Meetings are scheduled monthly and by June 2019, the Committee will provide an update to the Board about the progress of the Committee with preliminary recommendations. 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.
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.
Classrooms are used for regular instruction, specialized instruction and various functions (S.T.E.A.M. 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.
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.
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;
|April P2||P2 ADA Increase/ Decline|
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. The Superintendent's Committee on School Closure has had only one meeting, and their work is expected to last through June 2019. Should the Governing Board take action on a school closure, such action would be taken in August/Sept 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.