Hart district to discuss projected enrollment woes

The William S. Hart Union High School District office
The William S. Hart Union High School District office

William S. Hart Union High School District governing board members are slated Wednesday to discuss a demographic analysis that projects near-districtwide enrollment declines over the next decade.  

According to the study set to be presented, five of the district’s seven high schools are projected to experience overall declines in their student enrollment between now and 2028.  

Only Castaic High School and West Ranch High School are likely to see relatively large boosts in the number of their students due to growth caused by the nearby, and not-yet-completed, FivePoints Valencia housing development off Highway 126.  

The issue of declining enrollment is not exclusive to the William S. Hart Union High School District, nor is it an issue exclusive to this year alone. Since the 2014-15 school year, the California Department of Education has been reporting “a modest, steady decline” in public school enrollment statewide. 

According to the Hart district demographics projection, compiled by Davis Demographics and Planning Inc., the Santa Clarita Valley’s elementary grades for the past 10-12 years have showed enrollment declines.  

Now, as these relatively smaller cohorts enter junior high and high school, their lower numbers of enrolled students begin to be reflected in the William S. Hart Union High School District’s overall totals.  

The district, according to the Davis projections, has seen the number of enrolled seventh and eighth grade students decline by 854 (12%) since 2018; ninth through 12th grade students during that same time frame only saw a 166 (1.07%) student drop.  

Now that the bubble of students has moved out of junior high schools and are now in the high school grades, all but Castaic High and West Ranch will see declines over the next seven years.  

Between 2021-2028, the Davis projection states, the district is projected to lose 34 overall seventh and eighth graders and 762 overall ninth through 12th graders.  

“Over the next seven years, the district’s 7-8 student population should remain stable, however, the high schools will continue to experience declining enrollment due to smaller grade counts entering,” the presentation reads. “Growth is mostly due to new housing on the west side of Interstate 5. Those schools/boundaries will experience gains, however most of the areas east of I-5 will be aging out and declining over the next seven years.” 

For California public school districts, the decline in enrollment means a decline in average daily attendance (ADA) funding, the major backbone to most state funding for schools. 

The William S. Hart Union High School District governing board meeting is slated to begin at 7 p.m. on Wednesday. This will be an in-person meeting at the district office, located at 21380 Centre Pointe Parkway, Santa Clarita, California. The meeting can also be viewed on YouTube at https://youtu.be/MJYM2PNK_3I.

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