2015 freshman enrollment will be the lowest since 2007

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Originally published on June 20, 2015

As a large senior class graduates, a significantly smaller freshman class will begin its trek through high school in the coming school year.

Out of the 948 students who qualified for Lowell’s class of 2019, 666 are currently registered to attend in the 2015–16 school year, according to Lowell’s San Francisco Unified School District Educational Placement Center contact, Alana Ramirez.

Lower freshman enrollment hurts the school financially.

In response to the low enrollment rate, principal Andrew Ishibashi asked secretaries and counselors to call each qualified student who decided not to register at Lowell. The majority of private school students who declined intended to continue at private high schools, according to assistant principal Margaret Peterson. In addition, some students who already attended SFUSD middle schools and qualified for both Lowell and the Ruth Asawa School of the Arts chose to attend SOTA.

The 2015–16 freshman class will be the smallest that Lowell has had since the 2007–08 freshman class of 657, according to Ramirez. However, 702 students registered for the 2014–15 freshmen class. Ramirez stated that she is unsure whether anything will be done to increase enrollment.

Lower freshman enrollment hurts the school financially. SFUSD uses a Weighted Student Formula funding system where each school receives set funding depending on the number of students that register at the school.

Due to the lack of a wait list at Lowell, it is difficult to increase enrollment, according to Lowell Alumni Association executive director and admissions committee member Terence Abad.

In response to the low enrollment rate, principal Andrew Ishibashi asked secretaries and counselors to call each qualified student who decided not to register at Lowell.

The trend in the number of applicants in the past few years has been upward, so decreased interest in applying to Lowell is not a factor that has affected the lowered freshman enrollment, according to Ramirez. Three years ago, over 1,600 students applied to Lowell. This year, there were over 1,800 applicants.

Abad expressed that as of now, it is difficult to find the exact cause of the low enrollment. “I don’t think anybody can do more than speculate as to the reasons behind any fluctuations in the enrollment rate,” Abad stated in an email on May 28. “And in the recent past, we have learned that our ‘gut feel’ about the factors involved can be very wrong.”

Admitting transfers looking to enroll as 10th, 11th or 12th grade students can be beneficial because it can potentially make up for any shortages in ninth grade enrollment, according to Abad.