Enrollment slump hits schools in Fremont amid teacher deadlock

FREMONT — Teachers, parents and students of the Fremont Unified School District staged a protest ahead of Wednesday night’s school board meeting, demanding higher salaries and hiring more nurses and school counselors. If enrollment drops, the district says it just doesn’t have the money.

This is a familiar scenario playing out in Bay Area counties as public school enrollment continues to decline.

“A freshman teacher can’t afford an apartment in Fremont,” said Brannin Dorsey of the Fremont Teachers Association.

District leaders say they want to invest more in the students, but the money is simply not there.

“All of our school employees deserve a significant and substantial raise, and we work very hard to achieve that goal,” said Fremont Unified Superintendent, CJ Cammack.

Most of the funding for public schools comes from the state and the rest from property taxes and federal funds. The amount of money each district receives is based on the average daily attendance.

Over the past five years, public schools across the state have seen a major drop in enrollment — with the biggest losses in the past two years during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A recent report from the California Department of Education said this is especially true in places like the Bay Area with higher costs of living, as many families move away to seek more affordable housing.

The problem is that when a district has fewer students, less money is available.

“Fremont Unified has a declining enrollment rate and we are closely monitoring our budget,” said Cammack.

The state is looking for ways to help fund schools that are seeing a drop in enrollment. There are a number of bills making their way through the Sacramento legislature.

As for the negotiations in Fremont, a mediator is called in to help after both sides say they are deadlocked.

Fremont Unified serves approximately 33,500 students with 2,000 certified employees.

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