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October 14, 2005

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Publication Date: Friday, October 14, 2005

Mysterious decline in school enrollment Mysterious decline in school enrollment (October 14, 2005)

Dozens of vacancies in MV-Whisman district baffle administrators

By Molly Tanenbaum

An unprecedented dip in enrollment in the Mountain View-Whisman School District is cause for concern this fall, administrators said at the recent school board meeting.

As of yet, there is no explanation for the decline. Further investigation will be carried out by the administration in the coming weeks.

"It is alarming at this time," said Stephanie Totter, director of administrative services, as she addressed the trustees on Oct. 6. "We're looking at something different here. We're not exactly sure what's happening right now."

Right now, there are 144 open spots in the district, with 102 coming from the elementary schools and 42 from the middle schools. Compared with October 2004 enrollment, Mountain View-Whisman is down 52 students overall for the 2005-06 school year.

Actions have already been taken to deal with the decline, including "collapsing" two kindergarten classes at Monta Loma into one class.

Much of Mountain View-Whisman's funding is dependent on students' average daily attendance throughout the district. Declining enrollment means funding loss, said Rebecca Wright, Mountain View-Whisman's chief financial officer.

"There's also costs that are not directly student-related -- the fixed costs of running the district. For a district with declining enrollment, it's extremely challenging because funding goes down but expenses don't go down accordingly," Wright said. "You can't just lose one-fourth of a principal."

California's annual student and teacher data -- known as CBEDS, for the California Basic Educational Data System -- was due Oct. 4, and when that data is released in the coming weeks, administrators will gain a better understanding of enrollment in the county to find out if Mountain View-Whisman's decline is part of a larger trend.

E-mail Molly Tanenbaum at [email protected]

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