San Leandro Unified School District: Keeping Enrollment Steady During COVID

3 min read
Sep 2, 2021 8:00:00 AM

An update on keeping student enrollment steady during the pandemic using online enrollment tools.

Location: San Leandro, CA
Website: San Leandro Unified School District
Enrollment: ~9,000
Demographics: NCES Data

The Challenge

In 2016, student enrollment at San Leandro Unified School District was in a downward spiral — and so was their funding.

The district needed a way to stabilize enrollment in order to pay teachers, fund programs, and provide much-needed services for student success. With their previous process, families would line up outside for hours to enroll their children. Neighboring districts were taking students through inter-district transfer, simply because the process was too inaccessible and time-consuming.

School administrators realized they needed to make increasing student enrollment a primary goal and to redesign their process. 

The Solution

To combat declining student enrollment, San Leandro USD made some changes.

First, they built the technology infrastructure to take their enrollment processes online. Then they promoted equity and engagement by utilizing a highly accessible online system: SchoolMint’s registration and enrollment platforms. 

This user-friendly, mobile-accessible, multilingual platform allowed San Leandro USD to communicate more effectively with families throughout each step of the K-12 enrollment process.

Lastly, the district maintained up-to-date data to guide current and future enrollment decisions. This would enable them to stabilize enrollment and compete in their competitive school marketplace.

The Results

Student Enrollment by School Year:

2011–2012: 8,848
2012–2013: 8,671
2013–2014: 8,639
2014–2015: 8,592
2015–2016: 8,542
2016–2017: 8,618
2017–2018: 8,876
2018–2019: 8,926
2019–2020: 9,067
2020–2021: 8,828
Source: California Department of Education

What’s powerful about San Leandro USD’s success is that the steps they took to get where they are today are completely replicable by any school organization. To stabilize enrollment, they examined and remade their technology infrastructure to make enrollment more accessible and efficient.

Administrators overcame the equity and accessibility barriers by providing access via phone number instead of email. Most families owned or had access to a smartphone, but not all of them had an email address or even at-home internet access.

The other barrier dealt with not all families speaking English, so the district provided all students and families with access to the same information in multiple languages, which had not been done previously. 

In turn, San Leandro USD increased student enrollment.

This led to increased funding to the tune of four million, which allowed the district to support greater gains in student achievement and to become competitive with other schools.

Where Are They Now? A 2021 Update

The district had achieved stable growth — but then came 2020. San Leandro USD would face one of their biggest hurdles yet: COVID-19.

The district continued with SchoolMint’s registration and enrollment platform, and it’s made all the difference in their enrollment operations during the pandemic. For student enrollment manager Shirley Harvey, managing the enrollment process has been just as efficient as before the pandemic.

For starters, she had to make minimal changes to her process. One change was eliminating in-person parts of enrollment. Instead of having students visit the campus to verify their identity, students took a selfie with their ID.

Afterward, they uploaded that selfie, their ID, and their birth certificate directly into the platform. “The majority of families were happy it was all online and that they didn’t have to see anyone,” she says.

Unlike surrounding districts, when COVID-19 hit, San Leandro USD was prepared and didn’t have to adjust their enrollment processes. “I was sitting in a different place,” says Shirley. “That was the only difference. We were already ahead of the game, so it didn’t take us by surprise.”

In addition to saving time and money, being paperless with enrollment has made the transition from office to home vastly easier. When schools shut down, Shirley just had to grab one box of scannable single-page forms and go.

Further, families didn’t experience any big changes because San Leandro USD was so well-prepared for online enrollment. Now the district is seeing the number of students enroll that they expect around this time of year.

Students are returning to the classroom, and Shirley anticipates this trend to continue.

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