After more than ten years of declining student enrollment, the Anaheim Union High School District is set to discuss a proposal to consolidate a few campuses during a special meeting of the Board of Trustees scheduled for August 31.
The district, which has 21 middle and high schools in Anaheim, Cypress, Buena Park, and La Palma, has seen enrollment decline by 4,900 students since fiscal year 2011-12, according to the agenda for the meeting. The district forecasts it will lose another 3,900 students by 2027.
Many of California’s public school districts are funded based on the number of students they serve or their schools’ average daily attendance (ADA). Fewer students translates to less money for school districts.
At the August 31 meeting, the AUHSD board is expected to formally hear about a consolidation plan that would impact three campuses. The plan “recommends that Orangeview Junior High School relocate onto the Western High School campus on or about the beginning of the 2025-26 school year and that Hope School relocate onto the vacated Orangeview Junior High School campus on or about the beginning of the 2026-27.”
Hope School is dedicated to serving students with special needs, according to its website. It has a junior high school, high school, and adult transition program serving 223 students with individualized education plans last school year.
Orangeview Junior High School serves 7th and 8th graders and had an enrollment of 793 students in 2022, according to its California School Dashboard. Western High School had an enrollment of 1,750 last year, according to its California School Dashboard, which is a drop of more than 350 students since 2017.
The proposal to shift students and campuses comes after months of meetings by district officials, a nineteen-member School Efficiency Committee, aided with consulting from the firm Eric Hall & Associates/MGT. Twelve potential options for school consolidations were considered, according to the district.
In its agenda for the special board meeting, AUHSD states the district is facing “long-term financial challenges” including anticipated increasing costs for pensions and special education and points to the “current statewide labor [shortage], competition from nearby districts, as well as the likelihood of significant inflationary pressures in the near future” as other factors influencing the discussion.
The special AUHSD Board of Education meeting is taking place at the forum at Western High School at 501 South Western Avenue, in Anaheim and starts at 4:30 p.m.
AUHSD isn’t alone in its challenge with declining enrollment. Statewide, public schools have lost more than 310,000 students, or 5%, since the fall of 2019, according to the Public Policy Institute of California.
Also in Orange County, the Ocean View School District is currently exploring options as it faces a future with fewer students. In February, a proposal to close three schools and repurpose another campus was met with resistance from parents and was halted after two community meetings.
OVSD instead formed the Superintendent’s Schools Task Force made up of around 40 members that has been meeting monthly “to develop a range of future options for the Board of Trustees to consider as it determines how to manage the District’s ongoing declining enrollment and low school(s) enrollment." The OVSD Task Force was scheduled to meet on August 30.
The OVSD superintendent set a target of late October for the Task Force to propose some options for the Board of Trustees to consider, according to The Daily Pilot.
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