State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond will convene a webinar to assist school districts in building strategies to counter declining enrollment. Thurmond will host and moderate the webinar on Tuesday, May 23, at 10:30 a.m.
“It has been our priority to ensure that students and families are engaged in public schools and that schools meet the needs of families,” said Thurmond. “This will be the first of many conversations in efforts to help school districts counter declining enrollment.”
School districts across the state are experiencing a high level of declining enrollment. In April, the California Department of Education released the statewide student enrollment data report. Even before the pandemic, many California communities were observing population drops and corresponding lower student enrollment. The pandemic exacerbated declines as students left public schools, left the state and, in some cases, left the country.
During the webinar, participants will be presented with examples of best practices that school districts may be able to use to offset declining enrollment. These may include strategies such as expanding dual-language immersion programs and Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics academies to attract parents and families back to California schools. State Superintendent Thurmond continues to sponsor legislation that can support dual-language immersion programs and is working on a strategy to help school districts expand STEAM academies using funds provided by the state, such as the Expanded Learning Opportunities grant. The webinar will also provide an opportunity for participants to learn ways they can better market new programs to families to increase engagement and boost enrollment. Thurmond has convened a group of researchers, school staff and other advisors to assist in thinking through strategies for countering declining enrollment.
Thurmond and the California Department of Education are leading a number of initiatives that could play a role in helping to increase interest in families coming back to California schools over the next several years. These include providing free and subsidized preschool for three- and four-year-old students, the Universal Meals Program that feeds all students breakfast and lunch and efforts to ensure students learn to read by third grade.
In September, Thurmond held an online statewide Parent Town Hall that included 30,000 parents and parent groups. The event surveyed participants to elicit their feedback about ways to improve the public school experience, including ideas on how to counter declining enrollment. Parents shared the importance of continuing to focus on family engagement, with emphasis on creating caring and welcoming environments as an important element in keeping families engaged and enrolled.
The California Department of Education is developing surveys to gather information about best practices to counter declining enrollment. School districts that want to share examples of their work to offset declining enrollment, including effective strategies to stabilize or increase enrollment, can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The May 23 webinar will be livestreamed on the CDE Facebook page.