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As student enrollment drops in Arizona, so does funding to districts from the state

Gilbert Public Schools is laying off 152 educators because of a drop in enrollment. Many districts across the state also experienced a drop this year.

PHOENIX — Gilbert Public Schools Governing Board met Tuesday night as more than 152 educators are being laid off in the district because of a drop in student enrollment.

But a drop in enrollment isn’t unique to Gilbert Public Schools.

Gilbert Public Schools lays off 152 certified staff 

Gilbert Public Schools told 12 News in a statement the decision to lay off staff was not an easy decision, but say it’s because they’ve lost 1,600 students year over year.

“It’s just gut-wrenching,” Amber Franco, President at Gilbert Education Association said.

Franco said learning colleagues would be laid off was still shocking, despite knowing the district and others in the state were seeing dropping enrollment numbers.

“I don’t think the district has taken this lightly at all I think it was some of the effects of the pandemic,” Franco said.

Student enrollment drops across the state 

Based on the most recent enrollment reports, across the state public school enrollment went down by 38,550 students this year compared to last year.

Peoria Unified School District saw a 6% drop in enrollment. Deer Valley Unified saw an 11% drop in enrollment.

In a video on YouTube, the superintendent of Cave Creek Unified School District said their enrollment dropped by 400 students this year.

“The district is facing a potential budget shortfall in the fiscal year 2022 of approximately $4.1 million, which represents a budget reduction of over 11%,” Dr. Cort Monroe, superintendent of Cave Creek Unified School District, said in the video.

The drops are likely kids going to charter schools, homeschooling or parents delaying kindergarten.

Fewer students means less money for districts 

Districts get money for each student they teach.

Using the average amount the state spent per student of $6,395, the roughly 38,000 student drop in enrollment in public schools accounts for about $246 million.

However, that is an average, as schools can get extra funding for students that have special needs.

Franco said she’s worried about fellow teachers in districts across Arizona.

“I hope that I’m not right, but, this is only the beginning,”  Franco said.

Class of 2021: What to expect this school year

This year has certainly changed how we approach education during a pandemic. For more ongoing coverage of the Class of 2021 watch our YouTube playlist and subscribe.

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