Is the MPCSD Enrollment Trend Changing?
Enrollment numbers at the start of the school year fluctuate for a few weeks before a solid enrollment number is achieved. However, variability is small enough that we can safely say that MPCSD is experiencing an enrollment growth slow-down. MPCSD ended the year last year at 3004 students, the first time our district reached the 3000 student mark. We begin the 2017-18 school year with a preliminary enrollment number of 2969, a difference of 35 fewer students than where we ended last year. To see more enrollment facts and figures, visit the Enrollment Page at Open Gov.
So why might this be happening? MPCSD was the only local district to experience an enrollment increase last year, while our neighboring districts experienced no growth or negative growth. In 2016, MPCSD began with 56 more students than the previous year. The region, as a whole, is being squeezed by unaffordability and lack of housing stock; this is impacting districts across the Bay Area. While data is not yet available for this year, Palo Alto Unified lost over 250 students last year. The first reason this is happening is that the region is experiencing a settling and, in some cases, decline in enrollment growth. Secondly, the projected enrollment levels for MPCSD have not been reached in part because development that was supposed to have been “on line” by now is nowhere near completion. When the new developments are complete, we are likely to see a delayed uptick in enrollment.
Is it good or bad for MPCSD to lose enrollment? Unlike state funded (a.k.a.“revenue-limit”) districts such as RWC or Ravenswood, MPCSD does not receive additional revenue from increased enrollment. As a community funded (a.k.a. “basic aid”) district, MPCSD receives a fixed percentage of property tax. It does not rise or fall with increased enrollment. Thus, MPCSD actually benefits to some degree when fewer students enroll. Why? Because we have fewer students to serve with the same amount of money. After ten years of a 40% enrollment increase, we welcome a few years of low to no enrollment growth.