L.A. Unified School District’s enrollment plan isn’t as dire as it may seem

L.A. Unified enrollment continues to fall, but drop is cushioned by influx of 4-year-olds

The L.A. Unified School District’s enrollment slipped to more than 14.4 million students in the last year, but the drop in enrollment isn’t as dire as it may seem, L.A. Unified School Board President Steve Zimmer said today.

“It’s a little bit of a different story,” Zimmer said. “It has a different feel. There’s more students who have been able to come back in.”

Zimmer said that in the last year, the district received a large influx of 4-year-olds from the Los Angeles Unified School District’s 4-Year Student Program. The district also had to adjust its enrollment formula to comply with new federal rules that required a larger share of students to be from families with incomes above the poverty level.

The L.A. Unified Board of Education last week approved the district’s enrollment plan for fiscal year 2010, which will run from July 1, 2009, through June 30, 2010.

The enrollment plan includes school closures and the loss of 13,000 students at six high schools, Zimmer said. The plan also includes the addition of two additional high schools, the reopening of two schools that were closed for safety reasons and the closing of others.

The enrollment plan also includes reductions of about 800 positions, he said.

Zimmer said the plan is working well.

“We’ve got a way to go to reach that magic number of 14.4 million students, but we made great progress,” he said. “Our numbers were way up [in 2008] compared to 2007 and 2007 was way up compared to 2006.”

Zimmer also said he doesn’t expect to see any student walkouts at the high schools that remain open.

“We’re making sure that we deal with those who are currently at the school,” he said. “We’ve got a team of experts that are looking at that. They know a lot about how to deal with those students.”

Zimmer also said that the loss of students in some schools and the addition of students from one or more Los Angeles Unified high schools will have no impact on test scores.

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