Low Enrollment Not a Threat to Capo Schools

The decline in enrollment doesn’t have district’s trustees considering any school closures.

While enrollment numbers are relatively low at several schools, district officials say there is no need to worry about any campus closures.

Last year, facing a financial crises of their own, two local school districts—Saddleback Valley Unified and Fountain Valley Unified—shuttered two schools as a way to help close their budget shortfalls.

This year, by the end of this month, close to 15 percent of its $372 million budget. 

However, Gary Pritchard, president of the CUSD board of trustees, said no reports have been filed that a Capo school is under-enrolled and they "are not considering closing any[more] schools" after in Mission Viejo, which closes this month.

Barcelona’s enrollment dropped to less than 250 after a new charter school, Oxford Preparatory Academy, was given approval to share its campus.

Even without a campus-share situation, enrollment figures have been steadily creeping down the last few years, dropping below the 50,000 mark, according to financial documents presented at trustee meetings.

Now, San Clemente, Mission Viejo, San Juan Capistrano and Laguna Niguel all have elementary schools with fewer than 450 students.

Schools receive money based on how many students on average show up to school every day. By September, it is expected that the district will have lost 1,590 students since 2010-11, according to a PowerPoint presentation the board viewed in February.

Pritchard acknowledged the decline in enrollment overall and attributed it to the lack of new families moving into CUSD cities, and not a reflection of the district’s performance.

“Our schools provide a great service and the district is ran well,” he said.

When Fountain Valley Unified faced a $2 million district deficit in 2011, the school board decided to close its only K-8 school, saving the district approximately $375,000 a year. There were 453 students who attended the school at the time.

By comparison, 701 students attend Carl Hankey School and 1,019 are at Arroyo Vista, both K-8 schools in Capo Unified.

Closer to home, Saddleback Valley Unified shut down Aliso Elementary last year when it was facing a $3.8 million per year budget gap. Saddleback officials said by moving the 385 students to other local schools, they would save $400,000 annually.

Capo expects to save less by closing Barcelona. According to a Capo Unified internal document, by eliminating the positions of principal ($146,000), lead custodian ($60,480) and attendance clerk ($53,928), the district saves $240,408.

Marcus Walton, chief communications officer for the district, said a specific figure has not been calculated for closing a school within the Capo district.

“Our schools are so tightly staffed that the savings would be smaller than some might expect,” he said.

Pritchard said before his time as board president, Wood Canyon Elementary in Aliso Viejo had approximately 1,200 students enrolled. The school currently has 475 students.

Some of the CUSD elementary schools with the lowest enrollment for the 2011-12 school year include:

Laguna Niguel Elementary Laguna Niguel 600 Hidden Hills Elementary Laguna Niguel 495

Crown Valley Elementary

Laguna Niguel 294 Marian Bergeson Elementary
Laguna Niguel 488 Wood Canyon Elementary
Aliso Viejo 475 Reilly Elementary
Mission Viejo 396 Viejo Elementary
Mission Viejo 413 Lobo Elementary
San Clemente 414 Benedict Elementary
San Clemente 698 Ambuehl Elementary
San Juan Capistrano


— Penny Arévalo contributed to this story.

LeAna Bui June 03, 2012 at 05:35 PM
Penny: If you can't see how an anonymous person posting the names of family members of non-anonymous posters is threatening then I will be pulling my info and will refrain from posting further as well. My family is not a part of this debate, but I, like Pam, post under my real name and I have nothing to hide. Just because I chose to stand up with my own name does not mean my family should have their names thrown around by a bunch of anonymous posters. I think this thread should be shut down.
Penny Arévalo June 03, 2012 at 05:37 PM
Thank you , Yep, and CP for actually getting back to the topic.
Penny Arévalo June 03, 2012 at 05:39 PM
How terribly sad that a teacher cannot follow clear instructions. This thread will close in a few minutes. I welcome future participation mathteacher, if you can stick to the actual topic and not discuss fellow commentators.
Penny Arévalo June 03, 2012 at 05:42 PM
LeAna, do you blog about your family? Is your Facebook profile public? If not, you're fine. Remember, I would absolutely draw the line at bringing in one's minor children. And I've all admonished you HEAVILY to stick to the topic and not each other, which apparently is just too difficult for most people here. So the thread will close. Not because there were any actual threats (there were not), but because you all need a time out.
Penny Arévalo June 03, 2012 at 05:47 PM
And so I bring this thread to a close. Sadly, there was a lot of childish behavior on the part of many parties, on both side of the issues. On Monday, you'll have another chance to discuss the CUSD budget. Here's a hint; DISCUSS THE CUSD BUDGET. I had to LOLwhen the internet was discussed in church today. I leave you with this to ponder: "Communication is now global, instant and permanent." So choose your words wisely. Many of you have not done that. Also said in church today, quoting an article from The Atlantic (http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2008/07/is-google-making-us-stupid/6868/) "And what the Net seems to be doing is chipping away my capacity for concentration and contemplation. My mind now expects to take in information the way the Net distributes it: in a swiftly moving stream of particles. Once I was a scuba diver in the sea of words. Now I zip along the surface like a guy on a Jet Ski."


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