HomeCommunity NewsSchool Enrollment Shows Modest Growth

School Enrollment Shows Modest Growth

First published in the Oct. 8 print issue of the Glendale News-Press.

Glendale Unified School District’s official enrollment count for the school year is 24,654 students, an increase by 252 from the prior year.
The bulk of the new students are at the elementary level, which has 214 additional kids in classrooms this year, while there are 38 additional secondary students at GUSD’s middle and high schools. Among the elementary students, the majority of those new enrollees are represented in transitional kindergarten, which is in the first year of its expansion.
This comes as welcome news for district officials, who had initially anticipated a 3% decline in keeping with the pattern of recent school years.
“I’m very excited. Just the fact that we’ve maintained and grew, that’s exciting for us,” said Brook Reynolds, the district’s executive director of elementary education, in an interview. “We’re going to continue to grow because we’re adding more TKs next year, so we’re hoping that’s another 156 gained.”
The official enrollment figure, which was taken Wednesday, confirmed what many GUSD officials had anticipated since the start of the school year. Expanding the TK ages at the elementary schools certainly invites an additional pool of students to the mix, but day-to-day attendance figures starting on the first day of classes were showing that even factoring out TK, the district had posted some modest student growth.
Districts virtually statewide have been posting gradual enrollment declines in recent years, with a handful of reasons suspected as the culprit. Out-migration from California has picked up largely as a result of skyrocketing living costs here. Families in more affluent cities may be turning to private schools. The nation’s population growth has also been in decline for some time, with last year’s growth only at 0.1%. American fertility rate is also 1.7 births per woman, with replacement rate being 2.1 children.
GUSD hasn’t been exempt from that, having posted a similar gradual decline since its peak enrollment of 29,213 students in the 2001-02 school year.
Reynolds said most schools reflected either a small increase or remained level, though there were higher concentrations of growth in the more-dense South Glendale. He also speculated that the strength of GUSD’s programming has helped incentivize families to stay here or relocate here. Reynolds specifically cited the broad dual-language immersion offerings and the vast number of partnerships and options for after-school child care.
“And we have a superintendent who is really focused on how we meet the needs of our students and how we create that value-added education,” he continued. “She’s had a vision for the district and the consistency of having her commit to a new contract helps us see that it’s not going to be the flavor of the month and we’re going to be able to continue in this direction.
“We also have a board that’s been very supportive,” Reynold added. “You can’t have one without the other.”
Superintendent Vivian Ekchian agreed that strong programming likely plays a strong role in keeping families here. She noted that when the COVID-19 pandemic began, though in-person classes ceased, the school district never truly closed.
“Our connection and relationship with the people in our community was, in my opinion, maintained at the highest level,” she said, citing the technology learning pods and free twice-a-day meals that the district kicked off in 2020.
Ekchian added that the district tends to invest its funding into staff members and additional resources that will directly benefit students. Along with various community partnerships and other ways of empowering schoolchildren, she said the district’s schools speak for themselves.
“We’re going to continue to do that because we believe and live the community schools philosophy, of schools being the center of the community and services being focused on the whole child,” Ekchian said.
With the district preparing to further open up TK enrollment throughout the next several years, Reynolds said they’re going to have to work out classroom space. In some cases, that’s already at a premium.
“Probably across the district, our classrooms are busting at the seams,” he said. “Space is going to be something I’m working on right now. Luckily, we’re fully staffed, which many districts have really struggled with.”

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