Steady Climb for Schools

GUSD student enrollment rising at rate of 1.14 percent per
Gilroy – Gilroy’s expanding and its schools are sharing the strain.

Gilroy Unified School District’s enrollment is climbing steadily, as developments pop up around the once-primarily rural area and the city’s population continues to rise.

“In terms of us growing relative to the way the city’s growing, I think it’s pretty close,” said Steve Brinkman.

The Gilroy Unified School District assistant superintendent said the district is currently swelling at a rate of about 1.14 percent a year.

“That is not too far off from what I’m hearing the population of the city is growing at,” Brinkman said.

In 2002, the city’s population hit about 43,900, according to numbers provided by the City of Gilroy. In 2004, the city grew to 44,356 or by 1 percent, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

And city officials estimate that the population has ballooned to 48,993 or grown by 1.1 percent, this year, said Patricia Bentson, financial analyst for the City of Gilroy.

GUSD’s enrollment increased by 112 students or 1 percent, growing from 9,849 to 9,961, between 2004 and 2005.

Although a bump in enrollment can translate to impacted facilities, the increase is usually greeted with applause from district officials because more students means more dollars for the district.

In California, those daily dues are divvied in something called average daily attendance.

ADA, which has increased in the GUSD, is a school’s bread and butter because the state pays schools per student per day.

During the 2002-2003 school year, total ADA was 8,993. If a student attended class every day of the year, that student would have brought in $4,699.22 for the year. During the 2003-2004 school year, total ADA was 9,073, which translated to an annual total of $4,787.22 per student.

During the 2004-2005 school year, total ADA was 9,299.42, which translated to an annual total of $4,928.25.

The projected total ADA for the 2005-2006 school year is 9,439.91 or $5,139.25 per student. ADA numbers don’t only reflect enrollment fluctuations. The numbers also are affected by increases in the per student allowance.

This year students sitting in the classroom bring in about $40 a day, said Brinkman.

“That’s what we have to live on,” he said. “It seems like a lot but it’s not.”

If Gilroy sticks close to the city’s projection of a steady increase in the next five years, topping off at 56,462 in 2010, school ADA and enrollment should continue to climb.

It all sounds fine and dandy until the number of school-age children actually living in Gilroy is examined.

In 2000, a total of 10,857 children and teens between the ages of five and 19 were living in Gilroy, according to the most recent statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau. There are no numbers available showing how many children moved here in the past five years but with all the new development in Gilroy those numbers surely rose.

So, if there are now 9,961 students enrolled in local schools, and the number of school-age children has increased since 2000, where have all the children gone?

“I don’t know,” said Juanita Contin, GUSD coordinator of parent involvement and enrollment. “I can’t really account for those numbers.”

Contin does know that about 8 percent of Gilroy’s student’s attend private schools. Last year the district official conducted a survey of surrounding private schools to decipher how many local children are attending private schools in San Jose, Salinas, Morgan Hill and so on.

Contin compared data from the spring of 2001 and 2005 and discovered there wasn’t a big dip or hike. In 2005 an estimated 1,000 local students were attending private schools and in 2001 about 858.

Contin said the odd figure could stem from a variety of factors including the number of home-schooled students and the fact that kindergarten is not mandatory. Also, some 18-year-olds and most 19-year-olds have already graduated, she said.

Gilroy numbers

• 2004: 9,849 GUSD students

• 2005: 9,961 GUSD students

City population:

• 2002: 43,900

• 2004: 44,356

• 2005 projection: 48,993

Numbers provided by U.S. Census Bureau, City of Gilroy and the

Gilroy Unified School District

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