Schools Receive 2023-24 Capacities
SFUSD is determining how many seats will be available at each school for the 2023-24 school year. The district uses a centralized process to set capacities so that we can make sure we are right-sizing the total number of classrooms based on actual enrollment in our schools. Enrollment capacities are used in February to specify the number of seats available for next year’s student assignment runs, so that families applying for the 2023-24 school year can receive their offers in March 2023.
We are not making significant changes to the number of seats and classrooms in entry grades for next year, because we want to prioritize stability for our schools and for our families. Some schools will still experience a reduction in the number of seats for next year, because their enrollment is lower than it has been in the past.
Centralized capacity-setting is a way for SFUSD to ensure we align our resources — especially our staff — with the students at each school. This is in service of the work toward SFUSD’s goals around student outcomes, and is part of the district’s commitment to ensuring that every student gets access to quality education.
Why did SFUSD start setting capacities centrally, rather than let each school determine their own capacities?
Setting capacities centrally is a way for SFUSD to be more financially efficient. It is also a way for us to operate holistically to serve each and every student. By setting capacities as a system, rather than school-by-school, we can ensure that each school has sufficient resources to function at a high level with enough full-time, certificated teachers to support our learners. SFUSD began setting capacities centrally for the 2022-23 school year, while facing a significant budget deficit following years of declining enrollment. The Fiscal Expert who was appointed by the State of California to advise the District during that time made the recommendation that we should fund schools based on their actual enrollment; setting capacities centrally is a way to make sure we’re following that guidance.
What were some of the benefits we realized by setting capacities centrally last year?
The centralized capacity setting process last year was very successful at making capacities and actual enrollment more aligned: in elementary schools, enrolled students are filling 89% of available seats this year, up significantly from 82% in 2021-22. Classrooms being more full means we are using our resources much more efficiently.
Further, in a year where school districts across the country faced teacher shortages, some of the hard decisions to reduce classrooms meant there were fewer classroom vacancies in SFUSD than there otherwise would have been.
There was not an overall negative impact on families, as a consistent proportion of families still received one of their requested schools as in previous years.
How is the process for SY 2023-24 different from last year’s process?
This year, we are making fewer capacity changes for SY 2023-24. We are emphasizing school stability and instructional excellence since our financial position has improved. We are still using the same centralized capacity setting process for SY 2023-24 that we introduced last year to identify where changes are necessary. Based on learnings from last year and feedback from site leaders and families, central office staff have communicated more regularly and farther in advance about the process and timeline for capacity-setting this year. Central office staff are creating more opportunities for site leaders to ask questions, give feedback, and request changes after they see their school’s capacities.
What capacities are changing for SY 2023-24?
This year, there are fewer capacity changes than last year, because we are prioritizing stability for school communities and keeping a focus on instructional quality, rather than aggressively pursuing additional budgetary efficiencies.
- In elementary schools, we plan to make changes that will reduce the overall number of seats in TK-5th by about 550. Currently, those classrooms are 89% full, overall; after the change, we project them to be 92% full next year.
- In middle schools, we plan to increase the number of seats in 6th-8th by about 140 students, which would keep those classrooms at 93% full.
- In high schools, we plan to hold capacities constant overall, keeping classrooms at 92% full.
How are enrollment capacities related to school budgets?
Changes to enrollment capacities are linked to school budgets and staffing decisions but are not the same. Enrollment capacities are directly used in February to specify the number of seats available for next year’s student assignment runs, so that families applying for the Fall 2023 can receive their offers in March. School budget development happens around the same time, but uses enrollment projections based on current enrollment, enrollment trends, and a consideration of capacity changes. Where we are just reducing empty seats that exceed projected enrollment, capacity changes don’t actually impact budgets. Once each school receives their budget allocations, school communities will have opportunities during School Site Council meetings to make decisions about how to use their resources.
How do I find out how my school is impacted for SY 2023-24?
The Principal at your family’s school will communicate any capacity changes, and any projected impacts on staffing, to the school community. Be on the lookout for updates from the Principal and school meetings related to Budget development.
If my school experienced classroom reductions last year, can we add those classrooms back?
At this point, the district is still not in a position to start adding back classes that were reduced last year; we will not be able to do that until overall enrollment is at a higher level overall.
This page was last updated on January 13, 2023