LAUSD enrollment continues decline

Illustration%3A+Declining+Enrollment.

Kaitlyn Lavo

Illustration: “Declining Enrollment.”

Ileana Torres-Cabezas, Reporter

Los Angeles Unified School District officials expect enrollment to drop by 4% annually, which would cause the total number of students to dip below 400,000 by the 2023 school year, according to a financial report.

Enrollment in LAUSD dropped by more than 27,000 students in 2021 compared to the previous year, leaving this school year’s headcount at 437,358.

Student enrollment numbers have been falling for a few years. However, this decline was the steepest recorded drop between preschool through 12th grade, decreasing by almost 6%.

Some schools in the district could be at risk of closing or relocating as a result of low enrollment numbers.

Pio Pico Middle School, located in Mid-City, received news on Jan. 18 that LAUSD proposed to shut down the school and allow the Girls Academic Leadership Academy to move onto the campus once Pio Pico is gone. The GALA is an all-girls school operated by the district, which opened in 2016 and has grown significantly over the years.

The Los Angeles Times reported that Pio Pico students, parents and faculty members protested this announcement on Feb. 4 by holding signs that read “Save Our School.”

“The fact is, we can’t keep the school open when their enrollment goes so low that it is no longer cost effective, or instructionally effective, or environmentally effective, when there’s another use for it,” said board member George McKenna during a LAUSD board meeting.

Orville Wright Middle School in Westchester faced a similar situation around the same time. LAUSD proposed moving the students to a smaller campus, allowing a charter school to take over the facility.

The board was set to vote on top individualism in February but never did. No official announcements have been made since and both schools remain open.

The Los Angeles Times cited a drop in population, birth rates and a boom in charter schools as possible reasons for the enrollment decline. Los Angeles County lost almost 160,000 residents in 2021, according to data from the United States Census Bureau.

The new LAUSD superintendent Alberto Carvalho promised to investigate the delincing enrollment rates during his first 100 days.