Tuesday, November 7, 2023

Questions from the Press, Nov. 2, 2023.

This past week, I received questions from the Press Democrat/Sonoma Index-Tribune regarding  Sonoma Valley Unified's attendance and enrollment. As these are critical questions given our work on realignment as a District, accurate data is at a premium. The information provided cited by the newspaper directly disagrees with State and County level data from SVUSD. We have, as trustees, been notified of continuing serious problems with the financial and demographic data provided by our District, which the newspaper was cautioned by me concerning in the presentation of this article. I provided the below information to the reporter, and the article as produced eliminated all of the context, as well as the graph provided to SVUSD regarding enrollment and attendance produced by the Sonoma County Office of Education (SCOE).  Below is the original information provided to the newspaper. 

Q. [C]omparing the totals the district provided in 2022 and 2023 with the Davis Demographics report, Davis Demographics projections were lower by 99 students in 2022 and 244 students in 2023. I’m trying to understand 1) why SVUSD’s enrollment decline the past two years has been less than expected and 2) why the enrollment declined by only 12 students from 2022 to 2023.

The data provided by the Sonoma County Office of Education confirms the trend reported by Davis Demographics, as does the data reported by the California Department of Education. I have confidence in Greg Medici, the Deputy Superintendent of Business Services for SCOE, who delivered a report on this subject on September 16, 2023, to the SVUSD board, and the graphic prepared by Mr. Medici is attached. I similarly have confidence in the data produced by the California Department of Education via the California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System, commonly referred to as CALPADS. This system serves as the foundation for California's K–12 education data system by maintaining individual-level data including student demographics, course enrollment, student achievement, English learner status, and other student-related data.

Regarding the information you cited, its author was Adrian Palazuelos, and his separation agreement prevents me from commenting on him or on data he provided to the Index-Tribune/Press Democrat. As for the data in the spreadsheet you sent, there is no name on that data, it does not state from which system the data was drawn, and it lacks the foundation necessary to be treated as reliable. SVUSD has a long history of producing inaccurate data, starting with 13 straight years of projecting declining revenues that never materialized, with budget misses now regularly approaching 20%. I will continue to rely on SCOE and CDE data and will not consider the spreadsheet you sent in my analysis. I deem it unreliable and believe the voters should, too.