Slight declines in enrollment may impact La Jolla school budgets

By Ashley Mackin

Official enrollment for the San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) fell slightly behind what was predicted for the 2012–2013 school year in numbers released last week.

With 115,499 K-12th grade students registered to attend SDUSD public schools, enrollment was short 497 students from last year’s count. An additional 17,401 students enrolled in charter schools.

Bird Rock Elementary, La Jolla Elementary and Torrey Pines Elementary maintained high enrollment numbers, with each falling below projections by five students or less.

Muirlands Middle and La Jolla High School experienced slightly more of a decrease, losing 61 students and 54 students from last year, respectively.

“Budgets are prepared in the spring and are based on enrollment projections, as the district receives funding from the state that is based on student enrollment and daily attendance,” a SDUSD press release reported. Since the missing 497 students account for approximately 1 percent, SDUSD met 99 percent of its predicted enrollment.

“It’s important in these trying budget times that we have a stable and smooth opening of our schools,” Superintendent Bill Kowba said in the press release. “By coming very close to projections, it means we can concentrate on putting the staff where they need to be.”

By meeting projections, the district will avoid layoffs of classified staff, although some teaching and non- teaching employees may have to change schools due to enrollment fluctuations.

La Jolla High School Principal Dana Shelburne said he is concerned about the decrease in enrollment and what it means for staff and students. He said he originally anticipated a decline of 30 students, so the loss of an additional 24 could mean an adjustment to his staff.

“I’m always concerned if I have to make an adjustment because it’s a disruption for the students,” he said.

Shelburne said he does not know yet what the adjustment would be. “We have to deal with the resources given to us by the state and these are difficult circumstances, “ he said. “All ships rise and fall on the same tide. As the state’s difficulties rise, so goes education.”

SDUSD spokesman Jack Brandais said enrollment predictions are issued with the help of a demographer who studies housing trends, birth data and military activity.

Brandais said the demographer looks at when those in Navy and Marine service move to the area in large numbers and when they leave. Even then, he said, it’s difficult to tell how many people are moving and with how many children.

By the numbers

Enrollment figures at La Jolla schools, which are part of the San Diego Unified School District as of Sept. 28:

■ Torrey Pines Elementary: 473 students

■ Bird Rock Elementary: 531 students

■ La Jolla Elementary: 635 students

■ Muirlands Middle School: 1,031 students

■ La Jolla High School: 1,544 students

■ More online: To view San Diego Unified School District’s entire enrollment report, visit