Are Fewer Kids Going to CUSD Schools?

Do the facts support taking out the Luther School Site forever ?

CUSD has been holding a series of coffee talks, and the alarms are going off because enrollment is dropping (implying less revenue). It’s a common excuse to sell sites off that has been used since the 1980’s, and is being used again to permanently remove Luther School.

Is it true that enrollment has been declining in the long-term? Take a look at historical enrollments in the Eisenhower-DeVargas-Sedgwick area, making up the eastern side of CUSD.

Why combine the three schools? Because the three schools share borders and the district regularly shifts kids around. Example: In 2009, the boundaries were quietly redrawn between Eisenhower and DeVargas, so enrollment at Eisenhower is stable while DeVargas has shot up.

The combined enrollment of the three schools has increased by 36% over the last 10 years, and 16% over the last 5 years.

Also the oft-cited Enrollment Projection Consultants report is freely available to read from the district’s website. Some things you want to take note of:

  1. School specific enrollment projections (how many kids will attend) are only for 1 year!

  2. School resident student populations (how many kids live in the area) are only for 3 years!

  3. District enrollment projections are only for 5 years, until 2020!

  4. Does not fully take into account any housing development that will be completed beyond the above timeframes of 1 to 5 years!

  5. Does not take into account housing developments in San Jose and Santa Clara, which impact the East side enrollment.

  6. The report does not note the fact that the east side schools are already over capacity (rampant use of portables).

  7. Over the period 2012-2015, CUSD has progressively reduced one month (out of 12) from the eligible enrollment cut-off birth date! This resulted in notably smaller class sizes and enrollments.

Given the above serious flaws, the demographer’s report may be useful to figure out how many teachers to hire, portables to build, or to set budgets. But is it wise to make permanent decisions affecting generations to come, like converting a school site into apartments? In fact, the holistic data strongly suggests that the Luther school site will be needed to support growth and alleviate school crowding in the East Side of the District. Further, it is the last such site left in the East side of the District!

(data from California State Dept. of Education, 2005-2014, and Enrollment Projection Consultants Report Jan 2016)