GILBERT, AZ – One of Arizona’s largest school districts informed employees Friday of a “downsizing” for the 2021-2022 school year, citing a loss of student enrollment.
ABC15 confirmed with a district spokesperson that the reduction affects 152 certificated staff members who were notified Friday afternoon.
Certified staff includes positions such as teachers, administrators, school counselors, and nurses.
Gilbert Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Shane McCord said in a letter to employees:
“Gilbert Public Schools, along with many other school districts, face a small number of students entering the next school year after the global pandemic. Decisions like this are not made easily and, as a school district, we highly value all of our employees. and their contributions. We continue to do everything we can to increase enrollment for next year and hope that many students lost during this pandemic will return to our schools during the next year. As a school district, it is imperative that student needs remain at the center of our decision-making, and that we remain fiscally responsible to ensure the long-term success of our students, our employees, our schools, and our district as a whole. “
The district serves more than 33,000 students at 40 schools in Gilbert, Chandler, and Mesa.
Enrollment declines due to the pandemic is a problem faced by many districts across the state as they work to come up with their budgets for the upcoming school year.
Over the summer, Governor Doug Ducey announced the Enrollment Stabilization Grant Program, which promised that districts and charter schools would lose no more than 2% of the prior year’s funding if students went elsewhere. However, the money set aside is already falling short due to larger-than-expected drops. That, coupled with state funding for distance students at just 95% of what they fund for in-person students, is creating even more financial problems.
A recent report from the Arizona Department of Education said statewide enrollment in traditional public schools is down about 6% this year compared to last, while charter schools saw an enrollment increase of 9%. . Education officials also say that kindergarten and preschool programs accounted for about 42% of the state’s enrollment decline, with grades eight through 12 experiencing small increases statewide compared to the previous school year. .