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.]