The Los Banos Unified School District was caught by surprise this week enrollment numbers are down.
The district was bracing for a record-high 10,000 students this year. Superintendent Steve Tietjen said as of Monday the district only had 9,622 students. Last year, 9,743 pupils traversed Los Banos campuses.
"We were a little surprised," Tietjen said. "Classes are averaging between 26 and 31 students. We are not stacked 33 to 34 like last year."
Tietjen said about 90 to 100 students at the junior high and high school levels are not being allowed to attend class yet because their immunization records have not been received. Tietjen said while he expects the student population will grow, he no longer believes the district will break the 10,000 student plateau this year.
Student growth is typically predicted by calculating birth rates five years earlier and construction of new homes. However, the calculation has been difficult because of an emerging rental market in Los Banos, according to Tietjen.
Los Banos Junior High School projected nearly 1,600 students on a campus built for 900. Monday's figure documented 1,485 seventh- and eighth-graders.
"A little bit of the panic is gone," Tietjen said.
He said Pacheco High School has a student population of 1,494 and Los Banos High has an enrollment of 1,185.
District officials are planning for the future. In June, the district's board of trustees voted 5-2 to pay $1.51 million for 15 acres south of Prairie Springs Drive and east of Badger Flat Road, south of Target. That site will be a middle school or junior high.
The board also voted to acquire two other plots, set to be elementary schools, using credit against future fees, known as settle-up fees. One site is 7.95 acres north of East B Street, between Las Palmas Street and Place Road, and the other is 10 acres south of an extension of Stonecreek Boulevard.
No schools are projected to be built on the sites for at least four years because of funding issues. The timeframe for a new junior high could be accelerated if the state is able to pass an education bond next year.
Enterprise reporter Corey Pride can be reached at (209) 388-6563 or by email at email@example.com.