Kindergarten to Grade 12 school enrollment declining in Bay Area and statewide

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Statewide registration numbers for K-12 public schools for the 2020-21 school year fell nearly 3%, or 160,000 students, from the previous year, according to the Public Policy Institute of California in a report released last week .

The numbers were similar for the counties in the Bay Area, which saw enrollment declines of between 2 and 4%.

Before the pandemic, the finance ministry forecast a drop of about three-tenths of a percent this year. The much steeper-than-expected decline, which is most pronounced in the younger grades, may be due to parents keeping their children out of school, enrolling them in private school, or educating them at home.

The number of Black and Native American children in kindergarten declined the most, by 20% and 23%, respectively. There were also 11% fewer Latino children and 3% fewer Asian, American and Pacific Islander children. The demographic pattern held up across classes, but with smaller declines, according to the report.

Enrollment has fallen unevenly across the state, with enrollment in rural counties in Mono, Inyo and Sierra counties dropping more than 8%. Bay Area counties saw enrollment declines of between 2% and 4%, and Los Angeles and Orange counties saw declines of 3%.

It is not known whether the enrollment drops are permanent or whether parents will send children back to school when classes are fully in-person, according to the report. Migration may also have caused declines as more low- and middle-income families leave the state.


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