Enrollment Declines Could Zap Millions From Coachella Valley Schools

Coachella Valley public schools could lose millions of dollars in funding, thanks to steep declines in enrollment.

According to Jordan Aquino, assistant superintendent of business services at Desert Sands Unified, 2021-22 average daily attendance has decreased by an estimated 1,157 students compared to 2019-20. As a result, the district could lose more than $13 million next year.

The Coachella Valley Unified School District has lost nearly 700 students since the start of the pandemic. It could lose $9 million.

Palm Springs Unified enrolled 451 fewer students as of November 2021 compared to the previous year and 605 students less than expected. It faces a loss of $7.7 million.

Enrollment declines in the Coachella Valley mirror a statewide phenomenon driven by low birth rates and changes during the pandemic, including an increase in private and homeschooling. The California Department of Finance has projected an 11.4% drop in statewide public school enrollment (703,000 fewer students) by 2031. 

Currently, districts receive funding based on pre-pandemic attendance levels because of the pandemic. But the state’s “hold harmless” provision expires at the end of this school year and then districts could be headed for a “fiscal cliff,” experts have warned.

Read more about the Coachella Valley’s public school enrollment declines here