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Most Citrus Heights schools continue to see enrollment decline

Sylvan Middle School
File photo, Sylvan Middle School. //CH Sentinel

By Sara Beth Williams–
Student enrollment post-COVID has declined at the majority of Citrus Heights public schools and across California, but the actual numbers are hard to pin down.

According to enrollment data published in The Sacramento Bee this month, between the 2019/20 and 2021/22 school years, elementary school student enrollment dropped in Citrus Heights by 14 percent in the 95621 zip code, and 7 percent in 95610. Enrollment data provided by the San Juan Unified School District shows a smaller drop in enrollment, but both figures show a consistent decline in overall enrollment — a trend also seen statewide since 2014.

The area within 95621 has seven public schools in the San Juan Unified School District. The area within 95610 has five public schools in the district. Each zip code has one public high school. A number of private and charter schools also reside in Citrus Heights.

According to data from the school district, as of Aug. 16, total enrollment data from all 12 public schools in Citrus Heights, including middle and high schools, shows a decrease of 181 students, or three percent from 2020/21 to 2022/23.

Schools with the most significant enrollment drop were Sylvan Middle School, which dropped from 752 enrolled students in August of 2020 to 643 this year, and San Juan High School, which dropped from 651 students in 2020 down to 568 this year. By contrast, Mesa Verde High School saw an increase of 30 students during the same period.

Arlington Heights Elementary and Grand Oaks Elementary also saw significant increases in enrollment, with increases of 61 students and 26 students respectively. The district noted that increases at those schools in particular may be due to the schools expanding their kindergarten programs to include 4-year-olds, beginning this year.

One factor contributing to the apparent discrepancy in local enrollment figures is that enrollment in both Citrus Heights high schools were not taken into account in The Bee’s data. Current 2022/23 student enrollment information was also not included in The Bee’s data, and head counts provided by the district were taken in August while The Bee relied on California Department of Education data collected each October.

SJUSD spokeswoman Raj Rai told The Sentinel: “Without a better understanding of the methodology and data sources used, we cannot speak to the accuracy of the Sacramento Bee article.” She noted however that enrollment numbers reported by the district were accurate as of Aug. 16, but will differ from what will be reported in October to the CDE.

Rai said the CDE, which The Sacramento Bee used for its data, collects enrollment information from districts each October. According to Rai, “numbers tend to change during the first few weeks of school, and stabilize once we’re a few months into the school year.”

Rai said in an email to The Sentinel that student enrollment in the majority of public schools throughout California has declined, and this is not unique to San Juan or Citrus Heights. Declining birth rates and population shifts in and out of state are factors that impact student enrollment, she said.

The district emphasized that officials are paying close attention to enrollment trends and are continuing to listen to feedback from the community and offer programs and services that address the community’s concerns and interests. The district is also investing in school facilities to bring them up to date.

In April of this year, the CDE reported a statewide 1.8 percent drop in enrollment, representing a decrease of more than 110,000 students in California public schools, compared to the prior year. There are currently around 5.9 million children enrolled in public schools statewide, according to the CDE’s latest report.

Enrollment data provided by the district for each school in Citrus Heights is included below:

School Name School Zip Enrollment
Arlington Heights Elementary 95621 364 309 303
Cambridge Heights Elementary 95621 316 303 324
Carriage Drive Elementary 95621 411 434 442
Grand Oaks Elementary 95621 317 254 291
Kingwood K-8 95610 519 543 511
Lichen K-8 95621 483 450 494
Mariposa Ave. Elementary 95610 294 294 321
Skycrest Elementary 95610 415 401 411
Woodside K-8 95610 386 377 429
Sylvan Middle 95621 643 717 752
Mesa Verde High 95621 908 915 878
San Juan High 95610 568 669 651
Totals 5,624 5,666 5,807
Just 95621: 3,442 3,382 3,484
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