EMPTY HALLS With a current enrollment number of 2178 this year, the school has 113 fewer students than last year. This has led to the dismissal of several teachers.
EMPTY HALLS With a current enrollment number of 2178 this year, the school has 113 fewer students than last year. This has led to the dismissal of several teachers.

Decline in enrollment leads to teacher displacement

A dropoff in students attending this school has led to budget cuts affecting both pupils and staff drastically.

The school, alongside many others across the district, is experiencing a steep decline in enrollment numbers this year.

According to Principal Lourdes De Santiago, this school year there are about 113 less students than last year. Though it fluctuates, the current enrollment number stands at 1278.

Many teachers, students and parents theorize this decline in enrollment is due to the school’s failure to implement a block schedule. The principal says that though it might be a factor, this decline is district-wide.

“This decline is across the board,” she said.

As a result of these reports, many LAUSD schools have had to let teachers go. Displacement is based on merit and seniority within a department.

Principal De Santiago explains that the district is highly particular about maintaining a student-to-teacher ratio. When enrollment is relatively high, more teachers get hired. But when it’s low, like in this instance, some teachers need to be displaced.

The student-to-teacher ratio differs per program or magnet. Some courses specialize in study and if there are too many students, a teacher can’t meet the needs of their pupils.

For residential courses, ninth and tenth grade academic classes have a cap of 30 students per teacher. For eleventh and twelfth grade, the ELA and Math caps are 37 students per class. History and science classes for upperclassmen are limited to 39 students.

In magnet programs, the magnet-wide average stands at 27 students per class with a cap of 30. Each magnet teacher is required to have three classes of 30 students or less.

The cap in elective classes for all grade levels stands at 39 students, except for activity classes like choir or band where large quantities of students are allowed.

PE classes are capped at 55 students regardless of the program the students are enrolled in.

“You’re not supposed to go over a certain number of students per class and it has to do with being able to support the students,” she said. “You have to be able to meet the needs of the students. If you don’t have enough students, you cannot have a lot of teachers, so the teachers have got to go.”

A total of 62 schools across Region North, the organization that is in charge of schools located in the northern portion of LAUSD, are experiencing a decline in enrollment.

“I received information that there were 35 schools that had one teacher displaced because of low enrollment, 18 schools that displaced two teachers because of low enrollment and nine schools that had to displace three teachers because of low enrollment,” Principal De Santiago said.

Overall, 98 teachers have been displaced.

The displacement of teachers involves the transferring of teachers from their original school to a school that has a lower number of teachers.

Every year, the district has a norm day where they take into account the number of students that enrolled in that year and displace teachers accordingly. This year, the norm day was Friday, Sept. 15.

“On a norm day the district takes a snapshot of how many students are attending the schools and then they do the checks and balances on how many teachers are on staff,” Principal De Santiago said. “Based on the number, they’ll say either you have way too many teachers or you don’t have enough. And that’s where the displacement comes in.”

The principal says that there are a number of factors that may have contributed to the drop in enrollment. Possible influences include inflation and the relocation of families.

“Now that inflation has taken place and everybody’s feeling it, that could be a factor,” she said. “I am also aware of families that are moving out of state.”

Even after considering these aspects, Principal De Santiago says that the most significant shift in enrollment occurred after the covid-19 pandemic.

“It could be a combination of things that caused this and we are still compiling our data, but I did see a downward trend in enrollment after covid,” Principal De Santiago said. “When the district passed the mandate for people to be vaccinated, the people who did not get the vaccine were forced to be homeschooled.”

Noticing this decline across the board, the district has assigned schools to check up on families to make sure students are still continuing their educational journey even if it’s not at an LAUSD school.

“The district has tasked us to actually call and find out where students are now attending and if the proper documentation was done,” she said. “It’s fine for parents to take their kids out and move them to a private school, or take a kid out because they’re moving states. But there have been times when we’ve had to send our PSW counselors or any counselor out there to knock on people’s doors to see why we haven’t heard from certain people.”

This decline in enrollment is not only affecting teachers and students. It is also affecting the school’s budget. The number of students that enroll and attend school determines the amount of money the school gets.

“Because we don’t have the same amount of students, we don’t have the same amount of funding,” Principal De Santiago said. “That’s why we have to submit our attendance. The state provides the district money for every student that attends. So if we don’t have the students, we can’t get the money.”

This decline in enrollment is part of the reason why the school is experiencing budget cuts. Attendance money goes towards field trips and extracurricular programs, as well as magnet conferences. Without this money, the school has to be very particular in what they choose to spend their money on.

“The magnet programs go on field trips,” she said. “Whether it’s the medical magnet or the performing arts, everybody wants to experience what is done out there in the real world. But if we don’t have the necessary funds, then it’s virtually impossible.”

Principal De Santiago says she sees all of this as a learning opportunity. She, as well as the staff in the attendance and magnet offices, are dedicated to finding out where these students are going and why they’re leaving.

“Anytime a student is checked out, I ask the people in the attendance office to survey the parent because I want to know the reason and there’s a lot of learning involved for me as well,” she said. “I wanna see what I have control over, what I can change. If it’s perhaps a change of schedule, then let’s bring it back to the faculty.”

In an effort to prevent enrollment from declining further, both Assistant Principal Phillips and Principal De Santiago are surveying what can be done to strengthen the school’s magnet and international programs.

The abridged version of this article appeared in the Fall 2023 print edition. This is an uncut version.

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About the Contributor
Olamide Olumide
Olamide Olumide, News/Features Editor
From writing stories at the back of my elementary school notebooks to my unhealthy obsession with law-themed shows, (especially Lucifer), I've always loved telling and reading stories. As a returning staff member to the Mirror publication, I intend to explore my interest in writing in a more in-depth way as well as reporting stories in a dynamic and interesting perspective. Besides writing and law, I'm an absolute sucker for the kpop industry.
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