CHICO, Calif. – Chico Unified enrollment is on the rise according to its annual preliminary report. The district accounts for enrollment on the third day of school every year since 2010.
This year, enrollment is currently 12,176 students. That’s more than 340 more students than the total at the start of the last school year in 2021. It’s also the biggest year-over-year increase in Chico Unified enrollment since at least 2010.
The district says enrollment is up due to fewer pandemic restrictions and also due to the number of Camp Fire survivors returning to the county, among other reasons.
These numbers are not locked in place, however. Chico Unified District Director of Evaluation and Accountability Tim Cariss says there are several “no-shows” each year. This is when a student is marked as enrolling in Chico Unified, but is actually attending another school elsewhere.
“However, we don’t make a definitive judgment at this point on whether enrollment will really increase, and if it does increase, by how much it will increase,” Cariss said. “Really, with the amount of fluctuation we see at the start of the school year, we could be down this year as well.”
Last year, Chico Unified actually increased enrollment by more than 150 students year-to-date, up to official numbers submitted to the state in October.
“Some years it goes down, some it goes up a bit,” Cariss said. “Our official reporting date for reporting our registration to the state is early October. Last year we increased a little between the third day of the school year and the first week of October, but we also saw a drop.
The district has already seen a slight increase in registrations this week compared to numbers collected last week. It saw an increase of 4 students during this period.
Several parents who spoke to Action News Now today say they have in fact withdrawn their children due to pandemic restrictions for the past two years.
These parents removed them not only because some were against masks, but also because some did not trust other students to wear their masks. They thought it was dangerous.
“You know, we thought a lot about a lot of different things,” said Jennifer Morris, mother of two CUSD students. “We were really excited to get back to in-person learning. I think that’s essential for these kids for socialization, and I think that was really important.
Most parents who spoke to Action News Now today thought of home schooling as an option, but didn’t when in-person learning returned.
This year is the highest enrollment rate the district has seen in 2019 so far. There are 76 fewer students enrolled at the start of this year compared to 2019.
The enrollment numbers were presented at the Chico Unified School District school board meeting Wednesday night at 6 p.m. at Marigold Elementary School.