Education Report: Rosy Enrollment Projections for Oakland Schools

Courtney Williams's picture
Monday, December 5, 2011

The Oakland (Calif.) School District is closing five elementary schools next year. Two of its other elementary schools might be converted into independently run charters, taking 800 children with them.

And at least one -- quite possibly, two -- brand new charter schools open next fall, with plans to admit more than 600 students, combined. 

But OUSD's leaders aren't bracing for a big enrollment drop. They predict the school system's enrollment will hold firm in September, and even grow slightly (by 125 students, to 38,166).

Will the numbers bear out? They didn't this fall. Enrollment in the city's district-run schools, though flat, came in 300 students shy of projections, creating a $1.6 million budget gap that needed to be closed immediately. Superintendent Tony Smith and Deputy Superintendent Vernon Hal told the school board on Monday that they expected no more than 5 percent to 10 percent of the children at Lakeview, Lazear, Marshall, Maxwell Park and Santa Fe to leave the district after their schools close.

Hal also said district staff have lifted enrollment caps on some of the more sought-after schools -- caps put in place, he said, for the benefit of under-enrolled schools.

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