The San Francisco Unified School District has 1,099 more students enrolled than projected this year, which is cause for celebration (and about $10 million more in state funding), though it’s still about 500 fewer students than they had last year.
When June 30 turned to July 1 this past summer, Hayward Unified School District superintendent Matt Wayne transitioned into one of the most undesirable, hot-seat jobs in all of the public education sector — superintendent of the San Francisco Unified School District. It’s a job where your every move will be second-guessed, where you’ll be the subject of national Fox News mockery at least every month, and the only reason pitchfork-wielding parents aren’t trying to recall you is because the superintendent can’t be recalled.
But on Tuesday, we learned that Superintendent Wayne has passed his first test with flying colors. The Chronicle reports that SFUSD enrollment is 1,099 students higher than expected this year, based on the 2022-23 school year’s first official count.
As the Chronicle explains, “The number of students enrolled in the district this year is 49,045, according to official count taken 10 days into the school year, well surpassing the 47,996 children officials predicted.”
“We are pleased to see that enrollment in San Francisco public schools is stabilizing and is higher than we had projected,” said Superintendent Matt Wayne. “We even have seen a slight increase in the number of kindergarten and 6th grade students.”
Of course, this is still a lower enrollment total than the district had last year, so it is technically a loss. But it’s a far lower loss than had been expected. And for a district still facing a massive budget deficit, this means about $10 million more in enrollment-based state funding than they expected to get.
The Chron points out that “San Francisco Unified, like many districts across the state and country, lost about 3,500 students between the start of school in 2019 and the fall of 2021, or nearly 7% of enrollment.” And public school statewide saw enrollments declines, but EdSource estimates that in 2021, California schools saw a “1.8% enrollment decline, on top of the 2.6% record drop in 2020.” So our 7% drop is still much higher than the statewide 4.4% drop over that same period.
But SFUSD will take their wins where they can get them. This is a district reeling from divisive recall elections, running a giant deficit, still struggling with a payroll fiasco and a burgeoning molestation scandal, and with behavior problems out of hand at some schools. The district will also likely be dragged to court no matter what they do with the whole Lowell High admissions controversy. But with a nice boost in enrollment and state funding, and likely more Gavin bucks on the way, the SFUSD’s school year is actually off to a pretty promising start.
Image: San Francisco Unified School District via Facebook