The declining enrollment across Gilroy Unified School District has officials looking at ways to more evenly distribute the number of students across its elementary schools.
While nearly half of the district’s schools are expected to have double-digit percentage decreases in five years, Las Animas Elementary School is expected to peak to 855 students in 2026, due to the number of new homes in the Glen Loma Ranch development that surrounds the school, getting closer to its capacity of 953.
The district’s Board of Education heard a report about enrollment during an annual discussion on a potential school closure Jan. 11. While the board decided that no schools will be shuttered, it did hear about options to lessen capacity constraints at Las Animas.
Alvaro Meza, assistant superintendent of business services, said the district’s projected enrollment for the next school year is 10,057 students, a decline of 185 from the previous year and well below the peak of 11,483 in 2016.
Birth counts in Gilroy’s 95020 zip code continue to gradually decline, with 744 births in 2022, according to data from California Health and Human Services.
However, elementary enrollment is expected to increase by 33 students in 2024-25, according to Meza, yet middle school is projected to decline by 54 students and high school by 177.
The uneven enrollment numbers across the district’s seven elementary schools is prompting officials to look at ways to balance enrollment across all campuses. According to projections presented by Meza to the board, Las Animas will have 110 seats open next school year, while Glen View and Rucker elementary schools, for instance, have 213 and 190 seats available, respectively.
Meza suggested the board explore moving the Dual Immersion Program from Las Animas to another elementary school with more capacity. The program provides dual-language instruction in English and Spanish.
The idea drew a handful of Las Animas parents to the meeting, who said this was the first time they were hearing of such a proposal.
Las Animas parent Cynthia Grace said there are 300 Dual Immersion students at the school, and a move “would have a huge impact to us.”
“We weren’t told that this was something you guys were exploring,” she said. “We would like to be told ahead of time. We would like our voices to be heard.”
Meza said that this is the first time the idea has been brought to the board as a possible option, and no action has been taken. He noted that if the board decides to move forward with it, all current Dual Immersion students would remain at Las Animas until they age out, while new enrollees would be located at another site.
“Staff’s job is to explore options,” he said, adding that the board should look at balancing Las Animas’ enrollment. “I hear from parents about the congestion, the traffic, how difficult it is to have a function at Las Animas. This is just an exploration.”
Superintendent Anisha Munshi said the Jan. 11 meeting was purely informational, and if the board decided to move forward with the proposal at a future date, the district would work with the Las Animas community.
“We have to be proactive,” she said. “We have not made any decisions, but it is our responsibility to bring this to the board.”
Trustee Linda Piceno said some of the district’s elementary schools have large gaps in enrollment by comparison.
“We need to have equitable experiences for all of our kids,” she said. “For kids going to a school with less than 500 kids opposed to kids going to a school with 850 kids, it’s not the same at all.”