Enrollment decline projected to continue at Ramona schools

Trustees Bob Stoody, left, and Rodger Dohm listen to comments during the school board meeting on Feb. 13. Sentinel photo/Maureen Robertson
Trustees Bob Stoody, left, and Rodger Dohm listen to comments during the school board meeting on Feb. 13. Sentinel photo/Maureen Robertson

By Maureen Robertson

If projections for the 2014-15 school year prove true, Ramona Unified School District will experience its 12th year of declining enrollment.

Assistant Superintendent David Ostermann’s report to trustees on Feb. 13 shows a projected enrollment of 5,598 students next school year. That’s 132 fewer than the 5,730 students in classrooms this school year.

Enrollment is the district’s key to finances, since it makes up the majority of revenue, said Ostermann. It also determines staffing levels.

While he was unable to provide the amount the district receives per student from all sources, Ostermann said 132 fewer students represent a loss of approximately $750,000 to the district.

“The exact dollar figure is harder to define due to the (state’s) new funding formula,” he explained.

Commenting that “we’ve got to find something positive,” Ostermann said one positive note is that last February the district projected a loss of 153 students this school year, but it was 130.

“Right now, we’re looking at 132, so maybe the decline is slowly lessening,” he said.

In 2001-02, the district had a high of 7,271 student. A projection of 5,598 students in 2014-15 is a drop of 1,673, “more than in the high school now,” said Ostermann.

The largest projected drop at the elementary level is in San Diego Country Estates, where the district projects a loss of 28 students in James Dukes Elementary and 17 in Barnett Elementary. The schools this year have enrollments of 479 and 477, respectively.

The report projects an increase of five students for a total of 495 students at Mt. Woodson Elementary in 2014-15.

Ramona High’s projection is 36 fewer students for a total of 1,633, compared to this year’s enrollment of 1,669.

District administrators confer before the annual projections report.

“As always, we relook at these projections in the spring and in the summer,” said Ostermann. “That’s when we work with the principals even more.”

The district’s human resources department works on different possible scenarios based on the projections, but “we don’t make any decisions until the whites of their eyes actually show up for school,” Ostermann said.

Because of how school funding works, the decline will not affect district revenue in the 2014-15 year, but it will for 2015-16, noted Ostermann.

“It seems to me like from this day forward we should look at reducing expenses and building up a little reserve, a better reserve, so when we get there in ‘16, we won’t have a (fiscal) bloodbath,” said trustee John Rajcic, calling the Proposition 30 tax increase voters approved in 2012 a temporary Band-Aid.

For the complete report,

click here

and scroll down to Enrollment Projections.

   
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