It seems perhaps not the best use of resources for a district with declining enrollment and a looming financial crisis to operate a school with only 11 students, but that’s the case at Chinatown’s Edwin and Anita Lee Newcomer School.

You may recall the outcry in 2022 when the Oakland Unified School District tried to close or merge nine schools, which drew a lawsuit from the ACLU, a state Department of Justice probe, plus hunger strikes and activists occupying shuttered schools. So yes, it is very difficult for communities to cope with the loss of a treasured local public school.

But man, you have to draw the line somewhere, and it sure seems odd that a district struggling with payroll issues, mired in a teacher shortage, and drowning in red ink would be operating a full-scale school that doesn’t even have a dozen students enrolled. But the Chronicle reports that is exactly the case at Edwin and Anita Lee Newcomer School in Chinatown, which has only 11 students enrolled this year.

Image: @alfred_twu via Twitter

As seen above, the school that was renamed after Mayor Ed Lee in 2019, is a fairly sizable two-story facility. (The Chronicle’s reporting adds that the effectively abandoned second floor is where “classrooms are dark and empty.”) And between a principal, two teachers, a clerk, and a couple of cafeteria workers, the district spends a reported $832,000 on this 11-student school alone.

With only 11 kids enrolled, that means the district is spending $75,000 per student there per year, on average. For perspective, the Chronicle reports that the district-wide average is around $10,000 per student.

And the problem is that parents just aren’t enrolling their kids at this school. According to the Chronicle, 93 students were eligible last year to enroll at this school that teaches largely recent immigrant Mandarin- and Cantonese-speaking youngsters how to immerse in an English-language education. If such a small percentage of parents choose the school, it seems like it ought to be a candidate for closure.

The district’s new-ish superintendent Matt Wayne did try to close this school last year, but halted that effort after blowback from staff and parents — all 20 or so of them. Wayne tells the Chronicle he’ll try again with more “community outreach,” and that seems the right decision for a district that’s swimming in financial problems.

Related: Drastic Teacher Shortage at Lincoln High as Students Return Today [SFist]

Image: leenewcomerschool_sfusd via Instagram