A task force that will help combat declining student enrollment rates throughout California was announced Thursday by Tony Thurmond, the state Superintendent of Public Instruction.
The task force's goal is to tackle the problems surrounding dropping enrollment by offering recommendations and technical assistance to districts to help offset challenges being faced.
The co-chairs will be Public Policy Institute of California Vice President Lande Ajose, California Federation of Teachers President Jeff Freitas, Association of California School Administrators Executive Director Edgar Zazueta and California Association of School Business Officials CEO Tatiana Davenport.
"I am committed to supporting the needs of all our schools and school districts and while each school and community has its own unique history and conditions, declining enrollment is something that we are facing together," Thurmond said in a press release.
Thurmond and the co-chairs will focus on data analysis to better understand trends related to the enrollment decline which includes seeing which districts students are leaving from and where they are going.
The task force also plans to investigate birth rates, immigration status and housing costs in the area, specifically urban areas that have previously influenced population fluctuations.
"For many communities, this is not a new challenge, but after two years of a pandemic, the impacts feel amplified and the future seems daunting," Thurmond said.
Nationwide data from the California Department of Education indicated that decreases in student enrollment have affected public schools throughout the nation, not just in the state.
According to a press release from the California Department of Education, California is a control state, meaning that local communities have a bigger role in shaping local spending and program decisions.
Some legislation Thurmond is pursuing includes AB 1614, which would increase the base of funding schools received through the Local Control Funding Formula, as well as SB 830, which would provide an increase in funding for schools based on their enrollment as opposed to their attendance numbers.
These bills are believed to be able to assist districts in accessing immediate resources to help with enrollment issues, according to the press release.