EDUCATION – Manhattan Beach Unified School District enrollment sees slight increase

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by Mark McDermott

Manhattan Beach Unified School saw an uptick in enrollment this school year, reversing a decade of decline exacerbated by an exodus of students in the first two years of the pandemic.

A report presented by Deputy Superintendent Dawnalyn Murakawa-Leopard at the MBUSD School Board meeting last Wednesday showed that 5,897 students enrolled this year, compared to 5,852 last year, an increase of 45 students.

Murakawa-Leopard said the increase was higher than the district’s projections from last spring and is especially significant because average daily attendance figures are tied to state funding.

“Our funding is based on averages, so one year affects multiple years,” she said. “So the headline is we’ve reached our target, which I think is good news for us… I’m happy to say we’re seeing a slight increase this year, more sign-ups than last year , and mostly a bit higher than we thought it would be in our budget.

Murakawa-Leopard also said they checked preliminary enrollment numbers from surrounding school districts, and most saw improvements in the form of a less steep decline.

“But there are only a few districts showing an increase between last year and this year,” she said.

Jennifer Fenton, member of the board of directors, underlined the importance of this small increase.

“I love that MBUSD can proudly say as other districts maintain [enrollment] or still declining, we are seeing an increase,” Fenton said. “It’s a huge win, and it’s worth noting.”

The district saw its largest increase in its transitional kindergarten program, which grew from 42 students last year to 120 this year, contributing to an overall increase in elementary school enrollment of 2,132 last year. to 2,180 this year. Only middle school saw a drop, from 1,254 to 1,201, while high school enrollment fell from 2,466 to 2,516.

Superintendent John Bowles said the district has benefited from a full year of getting back into classrooms after the pandemic and more proactive communication about enrollment, including banners hung around the city.

“We have exit survey data for the first time, and we saw good response rates for families’ perceptions of district goals, all of which were high,” he said. . “But the highest response rate was in communication, and we took a more aggressive stance on registration. It was helped by a couple of things. One is the decline of the pandemic. But I think we also have to attribute some of that to the role of the public information officer, who really pushed our partnership with the City. Emergency room

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