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Oakland Unified School District

Big enrollment drop: OUSD starts school year with 600 fewer students

on September 15, 2022

For the fifth consecutive school year, enrollment is down in the Oakland Unified School District, the administration told the school board at its meeting Wednesday. 

Though students are still enrolling, the population is at 33,762, a loss of more than 600 students. As a result, the district will see a decrease in the amount of money it receives from the state. 

The news did not surprise some community members at the meeting, who said the board’s decision in February to close seven schools, including two at the end of the 2021-22 school year, prompted many parents to put their children in nearby charter schools. 

“Our communities demand and deserve neighborhood schools,” said parent Meghan Langston. “Instead, enrollment has gone down and attrition rates have skyrocketed. These closures do not end the problem. OUSD should invest resources into our schools to make them desirable, instead of opening charter schools in their place.” 

Langston asked what enrollment will look like when the board’s full plan, which includes five more school closures and several mergers, is implemented at the end of this school year.  

In October, OUSD will finalize the enrollment figure that it will use for projections in the next school year. 

Teachers union reps Mark Airgood and Tania Kappner noted that at some schools, the issue isn’t enrollment but attendance, which factors heavily into the state’s formula for school funding. Lower daily attendance, like lower enrollment, means less money to OUSD. 

At Sojourner Truth Independent Study where Airgood teaches, for example, enrollment is high, but there is no attendance clerk to make sure students are coming to school. 

“We do our regular attendance, like all teachers, plus a state attendance that funding is partially determined on,” Airgood said. “We have not had an attendance clerk all of this year, and for Sojourner Truth not to have one is just not viable.”

OUSD has struggled with attendance since the pandemic. Nearly 18% of its students were chronically absent in the last school year — more than twice the percentage of chronically absent students in 2018-19, district data shows. And this summer, the district cut its five network attendance liaisons whose sole job was to keep kids coming to school. The district replaced them with what it sees as a more efficient model — six support specialists, who deal with educational, behavioral, social-emotional and attendance issues districtwide.

In projecting the 45-day average daily attendance, newly appointed Chief Financial Officer DeCarlos Kaigler said the district should expect about $9 million more from the state than it had anticipated. 

The district also is on better financial ground at the start of the school year, Chief Business Officer Lisa Grant-Dawson reported. Its unrestricted general fund is more stable, she said, with over $47 million this year compared to about $10 million last year. 

The story was published in collaboration with The Oaklandside.


  1. Elbert Koss on October 28, 2022 at 10:17 am

    The change in student enrollment has been dramatic at OUSD. The district is expecting a drop of about 600 students from last year’s total enrollment. The district has said it’s still trying to determine all the reasons for the decline but that it will have an impact on operations, including school budgets and staffing. I do believe that lack of usage of educational tools like is one of the biggest reasons. The number of students enrolling in kindergarten through eighth grade is down nearly 5 percent from last year. It’s also down 2 percent from 2013-2014 school year when there was an 8 percent decline in enrollment overall.

  2. billyroberts on November 16, 2022 at 1:51 am

    The increase in student enrollment has been extremely dramatic in OUSD. The school district is anticipating an increase of 600 students from the total enrollment. The district has stated that it’s trying to find the root of the decrease, but said it’s likely to have an impact on the operation which includes school budgets as well as the staffing.
    Billyroberts writer on this service.

  3. kevenjohn on November 17, 2022 at 3:16 am

    Our residents require and deserve neighborhood schools,” said parent Meghan Langston. “Instead, registration has gone down and decay rates have rocketed. These closures do not end the problem. OUSD should invest help into our schools to make them desirable, rather of opening alliance schools in their place and the writer working at to assist the students.

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  6. pattyblack on June 29, 2023 at 5:59 am

    The significant drop in enrollment for OUSD at the start of the school year is a concerning trend that warrants discussion. Understanding the reasons behind this decline is crucial for addressing the underlying issues and finding effective solutions. A discussion board post could delve into potential factors such as changes in demographics, pandemic-related challenges, or shifts in educational preferences. By engaging in open dialogue, we can collectively work towards strategies to ensure quality education and student engagement in OUSD.

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    During my time in medical school, I met a guy who was an Arab and who had difficulty with the need to english to arabic translation with the help of an interpreter. I admired his perseverance and desire to overcome this language barrier. His efforts taught me the importance of perseverance and overcoming difficulties in order to achieve my goals.

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