By Alexis Figueroa |Staff Writer|
Fewer students are walking into school each year, an issue that has been a part of the San Bernardino School District reportedly since 2004.
High school students in California, especially full-time students, represent more than $6,000 in annual basic funding from the state. When enrollment falls so does state funding meaning fewer dollars, which results in program reductions, personnel cutbacks and possibly the closing of schools, according to the California School Board Association (CSBA).
In the 2000 and 2010 censuses, San Bernardino’s population grew from 185,401 to 290,924 while enrollment in the district, mainly in the city of San Bernardino and a part of Highland, dropped from 56,160 to 50,844 in that time, according to San Bernardino Sun reporter Ryan Hagen.
The decline in attendance is linked to declining birth rates as well as the current economic crisis. While these components are a huge part in the decline, it does not make these factors the main contributors, according to the CSBA. More and more students are attending charter schools in the district, exactly 3,500 reported the Sun.
For Sandra Rodriguez, the principal at San Bernardino High School, the school district has been affected by the declining enrollment for the last few years, but more so within this new year.
“The economy does have a lot to do with declining enrollment, as well as undocumented families that are returning to their home country,” said Rodriguez. “Another issue in regards to the drop in enrollment at San Bernardino High School is the opening of Indian Springs High School, our boundaries have been changed,” she continued.
The effects of the enrollment drops have been felt all throughout the San Bernardino district. The plans to expand and modernize the San Bernardino City Unified School District, which have been claimed necessary, will have to be put on hold according to Hagen.
However the issue of the enrollment is not just one that affects the districts and schools, the students are equally affected. The enrollment drop in the district has eliminated more than 250 positions this year reports Hagen.
If the issue continues, it means cutbacks will be made by the districts and within the schools, it may mean students will have to say goodbye to programs or classes that they find enriching in order to continue to supply the students with the necessary curriculum.
While this matter is a big obstacle Rodriguez adapts to it positively. “I believe that with a smaller population we will be able to offer a more personalized educational program for our students,” stated Rodriguez. “We will also look for more partnerships with community resources,” continued Rodriguez.
Ron Bennett the president of School Services of California Inc., a Sacramento based consulting and advocacy group, stresses the importance of the state helping districts more in times of declining enrollment.
Rodriguez believes that public education offers the most opportunities for students in spite of the issues with resources. Furthermore Rodriguez states that in spite of some issues with resources, the school progressionis working very hard to meet the challenge.
“Teaching is a vocation, of course teaching is our livelihood but we teach because we love it. We will just have to be more creative to help our families,” said Rodriguez.