The First Day of School

Today, kids across LAUSD returned to school (this applies to single-track schools, as well as schools which are “year-round” or “multi-track” …they have all sorts of crazy schedules). I kept hearing the following tidbit on news outlets everywhere (excerpted in this case, from the LA Daily News):

A projected 700,000 students will be enrolled in the LAUSD this year – official figures are expected in October – down from last year’s 708,000, officials said Tuesday.

The slipping student figures come, however, as the district has built 67 new schools and still has 77 to go in its $19.2 billion construction program – the largest public-works program in the nation.

LAUSD may find dropping enrollment as a reason to stop construction on these projected school sites. I would rather they continue and convert multi-tracks into single-tracks and alleviate classroom overcrowding at all schools. I know teachers at multi-tracks who have to move from room to room, period to period, as there are not enough classrooms to accommodate them. Although my school site is single-track, my classes are filling up, even as enrollment is dropping. I have 33 kids enrolled per class. Although 18 on average showed up today, I know that by the end of next week, these classes will be full. By “norm day” * students will be packed wall to wall. Mind you, in this particular class, I’m supposed to have 25 students at maximum.

It is not surprising that enrollment numbers are dropping. Schools are still too crowded, new schools aren’t being built fast enough, there are not enough competent people to fill all the positions, and charter schools are simply too appealing (for students and for teachers!).

Thank goodness for my students. If it weren’t for them, I don’t think I could make it through my day.

[ * “norm day” = The day in October that student enrollment numbers are balanced: classes are collapsed, and the roster is filled to capacity. Sometimes entire teaching positions are lost, but other teacher’s classes are still packed like sardines.]

3 Replies to “The First Day of School”

  1. I have gone to many LAUSD meeting regarding building a span (grades 6-12) to relieve overcrowding at King Middle and Marshall high. At first LASUD was all gun-ho about building the school, showing us graphs and charts showing the overcrowding at the two school and what that over crowding will do to our kids. But as they discovered the budget short fall the story became: well enrollment is dropping so we don’t need the new school, year round schools are fine, we can turn grade schools in to k-8th grade (A VERY BAD IDEA), people are being priced out of the community and new residens will not be having kids” (I guess they believe the new residents to Silver Lake will all be gays with no kids).
    I had hoped the new school board would make changes, but I am loosing hope each school board meeting that passes and no talk of the span school come up.

  2. I agree that they should put the schools back on single track, and I’m glad you’re writing about schools since few people care. But I think the declining enrollment is more about demographics — the current 11th graders represented the peak year of the population, I read once — as well as the lower income people, who utilize public schools, being priced out of L.A.

  3. Pat: I’m interested in reading more about this peak demographics thing. I’ll look into it when I get a chance.

    As a side note, I believe that if there were more *quality* public schools, then even the upper classes would send their kids to them. LAUSD is simply doing a bad job of it, even as smaller districts in smaller cities in LA co. are doing just fine.

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