Ventura County’s school enrollment is falling again

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Third-Grader Ariana Carmona Practices Pantomime During An Appearance By The Ventura County Ballet At Montalvo Elementary School On Tuesday.  New State Numbers Showed That Ventura County Public Schools Saw An Overall Decrease In Enrollment For The School Year.

The Ventura County public school system has fewer students for the ninth straight school year, following the downward trajectory of county population.

New data released by the state’s Department of Education last week showed that just under 127,000 K-12 students are enrolled in the county’s 20 school districts for the 2022-23 school year, the lowest number since 1995.

The drop of nearly 1,300 students, 1% of total enrollment last year, is less than the loss of nearly 7,000 students over the previous two years. The numbers, which are reported annually on the first Wednesday in October, track overall enrollment in the state fell by 0.7% and with similar declines across the state.

Enrollment indirectly determines how much money schools receive from the state. Under the state’s attendance-based funding formula, districts can receive upwards of $9,000 per student per year. Most agencies factor enrollment expectations into their annual budget planning.

Cesar Morales, superintendent of the Ventura County Office of Education, said in an emailed statement that the smaller decline was “good news” in the face of rising housing costs, a lack of higher-paying jobs and the “lingering effects of the pandemic.”

But, he added in an interview on Thursday, “we’re steadily reviewing.”

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State data indicated a 16% increase in kindergarten enrollment in the county along with a 2% increase in 11th grade enrollment.

But the exponential growth in kindergarten does not portend a long-term relief in enrollment. This year’s kindergarten class, which was 1,600 students larger than last year, has been boosted by several districts lowering age requirements for transitional kindergartens in line with State expansion programme.