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CUSD student enrollment falls

by Mick Rhodes | mickrhodes@claremont-courier.com

Claremont Unified School District has seen a steady drop in enrollment over the past several years, with classes closing and teachers’ positions left unfilled.

“Over the past five years we’ve gone down, including this year, about 14 teachers due to declining enrollment,” said Kevin Ward, CUSD’s Assistant Superintendent, Human Resources, who cited housing costs and smaller families as factors contributing to the shrinkage.

Over the past three years CUSD has closed 10 classrooms at the elementary level, and those smaller classes are now entering El Roble Intermediate School.

A glance at this year’s class sizes reveals a trend of steady decline beginning in 2012. The general consensus among educators is the drop of students is due to changing birthrates and increased housing costs.

“A few years ago, classes K through 12 were all pretty much 550 students or higher. There were some slightly above and some slightly below, but it was pretty consistent,” Mr. Ward said.

The incoming ninth graders seem to be the last of the large classes, with 627 students. The eighth grade class drops off steeply to 533, with each class below that less than 500, and the numbers contracting to just 409 for the incoming kindergarten class. This year’s CHS senior class is 584.

“Like all the districts that surround us, we’re all seeing declining enrollment,” Mr. Ward said. “It’s really just a  function of the housing market and birth rates in California. There are less and less school-aged children coming to school.”

Thus far, CUSD has not had to lay off significant numbers of educators as they’ve closed classes.

“Very fortunately we’re able to address that with attrition, with staff members that are retiring and resigning, we’re able to line up the closures that we need with staff that are retiring or resigning anyway,” Mr. Ward said. “It’s been going on in the region for upwards of 10 years, but it’s finally kind of hitting us.”

There were 627 eighth graders at El Roble last year. The incoming seventh grade class is just 492.

“Thus we are closing 20 sections, or four teachers, this year for El Roble,” Mr. Ward said. “At the end of this year, as the 533 eighth graders leave and are replaced by an incoming 453 students, you can also see we are going to need to close sections [reduce more teachers] for next year. As these smaller numbers reach CHS, we will have to reduce sections/teachers there as well in the near future.”

 

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