DJUSD Superintendent Reassures Nervous Parents No School Closure Imminent, but Warns of the Long Term Effects of Lack of New Housing in Davis

by David M. Greenwald
Executive Editor

Davis, CA – All week parents were up in arms, worried that the reduction of kindergarten classes was the first step toward the closure of Patwin Elementary.

Superintendent Matt Best acknowledged that “we’ve reduced kindergarten classes, four of them across the district and created one K, one combination due to low kindergarten enrollment expected for next year, much lower, quite frankly, than we expected.”

The number is 100 lower than expected.

“The decision to reduce the number of kinder classes is never an easy one, and it raises concerns about class size and school viability from staff and parents,” he explained.

But he reaffirmed, “Let me state plainly that there’s been no decisions to close any school as a result of unexpected decline in kinder enrollment for next year. That would involve you all and months of community discussion, which are not planned at this time.”

Best added, “While these drops are significant, the first thing we need to understand is whether this decline is an anomaly or a trend, and that’s going to take some time.”

Best acknowledged that this is a major issue impacting school districts across the state. In the 2016-17 school year, California began to see statewide declining enrollment. By 2019, more than half of the school districts in California reported declining enrollment. By 2023 last year, that number had risen to 73% of school districts reporting declining enrollment.

Best explained that “unfortunately we’ve seen a precipitous drop this year far below our demographic projections “

Furthermore, he noted that what has made matters “more complex” is that the district has made “millions of dollars of reductions just a few months ago in order to maintain program, remain fiscally solvent and improve employee compensation.”

Best underscored that while there was a statewide component due to declining birth rates across the state, the declining enrollment locally “should serve as a wake up call to anyone who does not understand the very real impact of little to no housing development within the city, specifically the West Davis community, they’ve seen virtually no new development over the past 30 years.”

The result is as students have aged out of homes that had children, “they’re either not turning over to owners with children and sometimes not turning over at all.”

Matt Best explained, “We must acknowledge that lack of housing development continues to have a dramatic negative impact on our schools, and we’ll continue to see this effect until new development brings more students to our schools. As way of reference, we have the fewest number of resident students than we’ve had since the mid-nineties in Davis Joint Unified.”

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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  1. Sharla Cheney

    The decision to vehemently oppose the University’s plan to build affordable housing for new professors and staff south of Russell Blvd and especially the decision to eliminate any access to the City for that neighborhood may need to be reconsidered.

  2. Matt Williams

    due to low kindergarten enrollment expected for next year, much lower, quite frankly, than we expected. The number is 100 lower than expected.
    Best added, “While these drops are significant, the first thing we need to understand is whether this decline is an anomaly or a trend,

    I seems like DJUSD’s expectation/hope is that Davis residents will start making more babies rather than less.

  3. Matt Williams

    If DJUSD’s expectation/hope actually is to understand whether the decline is an anomaly or a trend then they should/could be conducting a population study of the current 4 year olds, 3 year olds, 2 year olds, 1 year olds, and newborns in the DJUSD boundaries.  That kind of population study would only take months rather than years.  Understanding whether the identified children resided in the district for their whole lives, or moved into the district would be an important question to answer as well.

  4. J Belleci

    It all comes down to affordable housing. I’m a parent of a DJUSD student, with a toddler and one more on the way. It’s becoming more and more difficult to afford renting, or buying a home in this community. “Davis is for everyone” until it isn’t. This town can’t operate at maximum potential unless working class, and middle-class people can actually afford to live here. The rental market is insane, and many properties are struggling to get renters, lots of vacancies. Who can afford $3,000 in rent? Not young fledgling families, that’s for sure. It sucks, I like raising my kids here, but it’s becoming less feasible financially…

    1. monicacunningham

      You are 1000% correct. The rental property owners will soon regret pricing every apartment and home by the room. It’s a short term financial gain but in the long run they will see the devastation this will cause the community. This is just the beginning. Mass exodus is happening right in front of us.

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