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Student projections still lower than last year in all Tri-City districts except Newark
By Linh Tat
Fremont Argus, October 28, 2007

Enrollment figures for all Tri-City school districts came in higher than projected this year, but it's still down from last year in Fremont and New Haven. Only Newark reported an increase in its student population.

While the districts are happy that enrollment has surpassed their expectations for this year, school officials continue to warn of a general decline in coming years.

In Fremont, 31,729 students had enrolled in school after the first month of classes--199 fewer pupils than last year. That decline represents the sharpest dip in enrollment in at least eight years, according to district data.

And it's only the beginning. District officials expect to see continued declines of 200 students each year for at least the next two years.

For every 200 fewer students, the district will lose about $631,000, said Bill Stephens, assistant superintendent of business for the Fremont school district.

"We're pretty fortunate that this year's decline wasn't as bad (as projected)," he said. "Next year, if there's another 200-student decline, the district will feel it financially."

If Fremont Unified is worried about its enrollment numbers, it is not alone. Virtually every district in the county is seeing fewer students in classrooms.

The enrollment this year in New Haven is 12,998 students – the first time it has dropped below 13,000 in at least four years, according to a district report.

The report also showed that while the birth rate in the district consistently increased from 1995 to 2002, the number of children who would enroll in New Haven schools as kindergartners five years later dropped off during that same period.

On the bright side, its overall enrollment is 40 students more than what had been projected for the year.

Part of that increase is the result of all-day kindergarten classes that the district is offering for the first time this year. Also, more students have enrolled in the district's home-schooling and independent study programs than was expected.

Whereas the Fremont and New Haven districts reported lower enrollment this year, the Newark school district saw its student population rise for the first time in three years.

This year's enrollment of 7,140 students is 39 more than last year. Tim Erwin, coordinator of pupil services in Newark, attributed the increase to a spike in kindergarten enrollment.

"This was a bit of a surprise," Erwin said.

"Was this a one-time anomaly that we bumped in kindergarten? ... We're really going to have to wait and see."



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