By Terry Miller
In a community letter sent out last week by Interim Superintendent David Verdugo and PUSD officials hinted at more serious cuts that could mean another school closure. The thinly veiled implications are real if you read between the lines.
Citing low birthrate as one contributing factor of decreasing enrollment, officials say their resources are stretched too thin.
“Our Board is facing tough decisions that will impact students and families across our District. We must do more so that every student has access to educational opportunities in order to achieve,” Verdugo said.
Over the last 10 years, PUSD says it has strengthened Pasadena Unified schools with “excellent, rigorous, and engaging programs and services for our students: from arts and music, dual language, magnet, science and STEM to International Baccalaureate and high school academies, athletics, and more. We have implemented programs in collaboration with local civic and community partners that are igniting a curiosity for learning and producing graduates who are ready to excel in the careers of tomorrow.”
Lower birth rates and rising housing costs mean that the number of school-aged children living in Pasadena, Altadena, and Sierra Madre continues to drop, according to Verdugo.
Of course, with decreased enrollment comes decreased state and federal funding.
“With 27 campuses for 16,000 students, our resources are spread thin. Compared to surrounding school districts, PUSD has an average of 630 students per campus; our neighboring school districts average 900-1,000 students per campus. Statewide, enrollment averages 519 for elementary, 766 for middle schools, and 1,331 for high schools,” lamented Verdugo.
“To deepen student access to PUSD’s excellent programs at every site, the PUSD Board of Education convened the limited-term Master Planning & Boundaries Subcommittee in November 2018 to review programs and school capacity and develop recommendations on the number and location of school sites our District should keep open in the next five to 10 years,” the Interim Superintendent continued.