School Districts Try to Attract Students as Enrollment Declines

In the wake of declining enrollment statewide, San Diego County schools are trying to attract more students.

Enrollment numbers are important because when districts grow they get more funding, but when they shrink they get less - about $10,000 less for each student.

In Vista, one school has parents practically knocking down the door to get their kids in.

It’s the first year of a dual immersion program in the Vista Unified School District.

Billy, who attends Grapevine Elementary, says he learns something new every day. "First I go to English class next door then I do Spanish right now in the afternoon," he told NBC 7.

Superintendent Dr. Linda Kimbel says it’s one of the programs that’s attracting more students to the district. "It’s a competition for students now," she says.

The Vista Unified School District's enrollment is down more than 4.6 percent over the last five years. This year alone, the decline translates to a loss of $4 million in funding.

San Diego Unified School District’s (SDUSD) enrollment is also down 1.3 percent in district schools and 2.1 percent in charter schools for this year over last year.

The Charter School Association said SDUSD's enrollment rate has been steadily declining since the early 2000s.

During that time, their charter school growth has been steady so the decline in enrollment may also come from other factors, including a decline in birth rates and an increase in families moving away from San Diego, according to the Charter School Association.   

In contrast, Poway Unified School District's enrollment is growing at a rate of one percent a year. San Marcos Unified School District is also reportedly growing.

In both districts’ cases, new housing developments in their areas seem to be a factor.

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