LAUSD experiences enrollment decline

Saisha Kumar and Tate Sheehy

Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) schools face low enrollment numbers as students transition to private schools, families move to less expensive areas and students move into full-time employment, the Los Angeles Times reported. Since the previous year, up to 20,000 students have stopped attending or unenrolled from LAUSD schools, according to the National Broadcasting Company (NBC).

Associate Head of School Laura Ross, who teaches a directed study titled “Public Education in America—Ideal to Reality,” said she is unsure there is a solution to the LAUSD enrollment deficit.

“It is hard [to recover] when California is last in the country in the funding of transportation and busing,” Ross said. “It is a question of if [the issue] is going to be solved or if it is a new normal.”

LAUSD currently has 430,000 students enrolled in its schools but that number is predicted to decrease by 121,000 students within the next decade, according to Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS). Because school funding is allotted based on attendance, many schools will now receive less financial support. 

Ross said LAUSD schools must find a way to maintain adequate funding despite the lack of enrollment.

“[LAUSD schools] have to figure out how to deal with the attendance and funding issues they had,” Ross said. “[The schools] have some extra funding in the last few years with all the COVID-19 money that has come in, but that is going to go away too.”

Ross said the issues the LAUSD system is facing goes beyond low enrollment.

“[Looking] at achievement levels and where kids are, there is still a huge gap from two years ago,” Ross said. “There is a learning loss from the COVID-19 year from being online, and last year, it was not like it all magically got better. Tons of kids were gone, [and] it was hard for teachers to often have half their classes out. How do you catch up with those kids?”

Alexander Hamilton High School freshman Callista Thompson said the student shortage has caused spatial issues at her school. 

“I know many students who left my school or another LAUSD school for another district or private school,” Thompson said. “The drop in enrollment is affecting students at my school because there is increased space in classes, and unexpected changes in schedules lead to administrators needing to fill all those spaces.”

Grayson Tooley ’24 said he is concerned for the future of LAUSD schools if they do not receive adequate funding.

“The lower enrollment in public schools not only affects current students this year, it affects future generations,” Tooley said. “If less and less funding is given each year, which has already begun, that leads to less and less opportunities and resources. The increase in living expenses has not even ended yet.”