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Sacramento Kindergarten Enrollment Drops

Kindergarten enrollment in Sacramento city schools has dropped by hundreds this year.

Ann Crisp is among many parents who have opted to pay to keep their would-be kindergartners in private preschool this year. She says the long-term value of in-person learning is worth the risk of her 5-year-old son contracting COVID-19 at school.

“I don’t want him to be delayed going into school any more than he was going to be,” she said.

Crisp says she tried distance learning with him for a couple of weeks, but it simply didn’t work. She and her husband both work from home, and their son has some developmental delays.

“We set up a desk next to my desk so he could be sitting next to me and I could make sure he was paying attention, but because of his delays, even following along with the alphabet, I needed to be there right next to him to make sure he was holding his pencil the right way,” she said.

Early numbers show Sacramento City Unified enrolled about 600 fewer kindergartners this year. Other systems are seeing the same decline: Los Angeles Unified now has thousands fewer kindergarten students. The Sacramento school district serves 43,000 students total.

SCUSD Superintendent Jorge Aguilar says he’s worried about the drop.

“Kindergarten is a critical educational milestone that leads to another critical milestone a couple of years down the road — in third grade readiness rates — which of course have a tremendous association to overall success,” he said.

Aguilar says if the declining enrollment holds, it could eventually mean millions in lost revenue to the already cash-strapped district. Advocates also worry inequities could worsen: If poor kids fall behind during the pandemic, it will be harder for them to catch up to their classmates.

— Pauline Bartolone, CapRadio (@pbartolone)

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