Seven-Year Forecast Predicts Steadily Falling Enrollments at Pasadena Unified

Published : Friday, September 20, 2019 | 5:27 AM

A demographic forecast report on Pasadena Unified’s projected future enrollment concludes continuing declines in the size of the local public school student body will occur for each of the next seven years.

PUSD contracted with Davis Demographic & Planning to update and analyze demographic data to better inform its facility planning. The District faces decisions about closing school campuses and must decide which to shutter.

The resulting report found underlying demographic trends demonstrating a decline in the number of students Pasadena Unified will be paid by the State of California to educate over the next seven years.

Enrollment currently stands at 16,163 students. Enrollment at the near mid-point in 2022/23 is projected to drop to 14,912. By 2025/26, total enrollment will have dipped to 14,291, according to the study.

Births in Pasadena have been declining for two decades, it is noted in the report, a trend certain to force a decline in transition-to-kindergarten (TK) and Kindergarten enrollment going forward.

The children that are being born are not enrolling in PUSD, which is experiencing an outmigration of students district-wide, according to the report.

Data analyzed suggests that reduced birth rates and outmigration will drive an 11 percent drop in enrollment over the seven-year timeframe.

There are four elementary school attendance areas studied by the consultant that have less than 400 TK-through-5 resident students.

“At this point, there is little to suggest this trend is going to turn around soon,” the report said.

The document makes palpable the link between institutions of learning and the housing policies being affected in their host communities. New housing in Pasadena, DDP noted, “is geared toward active seniors and couples without children.”

Competition for students is tight. Were there less of an education offering available, PUSD might have something like twice the number enrollees it does at present.

An analysis of a four-year period demonstrated how more PUSD students are leaving the district, than are new students enrolling.

“These students are exiting PUSD schools to enroll in private schools, charter schools, or neighboring districts,” the report stated.

As things stand, according to the report, “PUSD is capturing only roughly 51 percent of the school age population residing within PUSD boundaries. This is by far the lowest capture rate of school districts within the San Gabriel Valley.”

And the 51 percent figure is an average. Some attendance areas studied in the report top out at 30 percent, according to DDP.

The consultant noted that PUSD has been in a period of administrative changes and adjustment and that, as such, trends are not always easy to identify because it takes three or four years for them to become discernible.

A grain of salt and further monitoring of births, student migration patterns, capture rates and other variable are required going forward.

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