By Emily Rasmussen

As Capistrano Unified School District (CUSD) sees a trend in decreasing enrollment, the district’s board of trustees is preparing to begin discussions regarding employment reduction.

As enrollment declines—a CUSD graphic projected roughly 1,000 to 2,000 or so in the next four years—CUSD revenue will also decline, which could result in reducing the number of district employees, a special meeting on Feb. 13 revealed.

“It’s actually going to come down to that in the next month. We’re going to have to make decisions on reducing the number of employees,” CUSD Board President Martha McNicholas said at the meeting.

“For the foreseeable future, (we see) a decline in enrollment projections throughout the district,” Deputy Superintendent Clark Hampton said at the meeting.

In hopes that alternatives such as early retirement incentives, which the board passed at the same meeting—incentives eligible to 585 employees for tax-qualified annuity based on total district contributions of either 80 percent or 85 percent of their final year salary—will gradually reduce district staff and alleviate the decision of cutting district employees.

“Typically, with enrollment declines, you would have retirements of teachers and that would cover the need to reduce the number of teachers that you need to cover the new students the following years, since you have fewer students,” Hampton said. “That’s referred to as almost an automatic reduction.”

CUSD Superintendent Kirsten Vital added that another reason the district faces difficulties in revenue is that CUSD has one of the lowest funding per student, due to the state’s Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF). To read this story in full, visit our website at

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