Mountain View Voice

News - April 12, 2013

New trend? Kindergarten enrollment rates drop

by Nick Veronin

Officials with the Mountain View Whisman School District have reported a significant drop in the number of kindergartners registering for school.

Only 529 kindergartners registered for MVWSD schools during this year's open enrollment period, which ran from Jan. 28 through March 5. That's 101 fewer than the 630 that signed up during last year's open enrollment, according to Craig Goldman, district superintendent.

In recent years, the number of new kindergartners in the district has been steadily rising.

The 15 percent dip can likely be attributed to a number of factors, Goldman said — including families leaving the area in pursuit of better work opportunities or lower rents, shifting cutoff dates for kindergarten eligibility and an overall decline in birth rates.

"We attribute (the drop), to a large extent, to the fact that people are relocating because of jobs or they are relocating because they are being priced out of the rental market," Goldman said, adding that not only are housing and rental prices high in Mountain View, but that many people are also willing to pay those prices, making the market highly competitive.

Additionally, Goldman noted, in the 2013-14 school year, kindergarten enrollment eligibility will be pushed back one month, from Nov. 1 to Oct. 1. The superintendent said his district is expecting this change accounts for about half of the dip — or about 50 kindergartners.

In 2011, in an effort to address the issue of children entering kindergarten too early, California passed Senate Bill 1381 — the Kindergarten Readiness Act — which moved the cutoff date up to Nov. 1 this year and will move the cutoff date up to Sept. 1 in the 2014-15 school year, where it will remain.

Goldman pointed out that U.S. birthrates began declining following the onset of the Great Recession — an assertion backed by a recent Pew Research study and by the preliminary results of the district's demographic survey.

"It appears, not surprisingly, that beginning five to six years after the economic crisis hit, we are starting to see evidence of declining birth rates in kindergarten enrollment numbers," he said.

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