By Maureen Robertson
Enrollment in Ramona’s public schools peaked at 7,271 students in 2001-02 and has declined every year since.
Ramona Unified officials predict that trend will continue in the 2013-14 school year, when they expect 5,712 students — 153 fewer than this year.
“If you think about it, we’ve declined about a high school number of kids,” Assistant Superintendent David Ostermann told school trustees recently.
The district expects Ramona High School will have 1,635 students next year. Including 2013-14 projections, the total enrollment decline since 2001-02 is 1,559 students.
Ostermann calls enrollment a key to district finances, since Ramona Unified receives about 70 percent of its income from ADA, or average daily attendance.
“Enrollment projections are the foundation upon which a school district builds its budget and the tool used to project future revenues,” he said in his report to trustees. “In formulating a budget, enrollment projections are the basis for determining a district’s largest expenditure, the staffing of its schools.”
They also determine the amount budgeted for other school needs such as supplies and transportation.
Considering the $5,200 per student the district receives in ADA, the projected drop in enrollment means a revenue loss of about $795,000, said Ostermann. In addition to ADA money, the district receives money for specific programs such as special education, support for low-income students, vocational education, and after-school programs.
The district will update enrollment projections as it receives more information from school principals and other sources, said Ostermann, “but nobody can tell us what our actual enrollment’s going to be until August when they show up.”
According to projections for each school, the largest drop will be at Ramona High and Olive Peirce Middle School, where, respectively, 52 and 30 fewer students are expected. In past years, the largest decline has been in the elementary schools.