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(CNN)College campuses have fewer students on them, and it's not just because of remote learning. There are about 1 million fewer college students enrolled since before the pandemic began, according to a report released Thursday.

Undergraduate enrollment declined by 3.1% or more than 465,000 students between fall 2020 and fall 2021, according to the report released by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.
A look at the past two years of the pandemic shows there are an estimated 1,025,600 fewer undergraduate students than were enrolled in fall 2019."That's about a six and a half percent decline, which is the largest two-year drop that we've ever seen, at least in the last 50 years in the US for undergraduates. It's about twice as steep a decline as the previous largest," said Doug Shapiro, the executive director of the center, a research arm of the National Student Clearinghouse.

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The last time there was a decline like this was in 2013, when enrollments were coming off "an all-time high driven by the Great Recession," Shapiro told CNN. That's normal, he said, as more people tend to enroll in college during a recession to better themselves and their skills. When recessions end, enrollments go down and people tend to get back to work, he added.This recent decline is part of a larger trend of fewer undergraduate students enrolling over the past decade, Shapiro said. Read More"Enrollments were not doing great to begin with before the pandemic," Shapiro said, adding that they were dipping 1% to 1.5% per year.It matters on a personal level and a macro level. The impact of having fewer students enrolling in college could affect their earning potentials individually, as well as affect the economy in the long term, Shapiro said.Americans feel better about the economy, for now"The opportunity to really invest in their educational future, in their future skills, employability and earnings potential ... is potentially slipping away. That's not good for our students and their families," Shapiro said. "It's also not good for their communities and for the nation, for our future workforce and our economy."During the first year of the pandemic, community colleges were hardest hit in terms of enrollment, according to the center's findings. Part of that comes from the pandemic economy, with people opting for better-paying jobs instead of spending money on college, Shapiro said."What's really interesting this year is that the declines are broadening across all of higher education," Shapiro said. "This year, we're seeing the pain is actually evenly split between two-year and four-year colleges and especially in the less selective four-year colleges and the public four-year colleges where affordability and student debt have become some of the larger concern."While health and economic factors have played into why fewer students are enrolling in college during the pandemic, Shapiro said that some may be wondering about the value of college.College applications in pandemic year show deepening inequities in access to higher education"I think the data suggests this year that more students are really questioning the value of going to college, not just whether this is a good time to go," he said. "It feels like they're less confident about what the payoff will be, particularly now when the job market is very strong, when there is a very there's high demand for low-skilled workers without a degree and their wages are rising."College institutions had hoped that students were just taking a year off during 2020 and that they would come back when in-person learning started, Shapiro said. But, the data showed that "very few of those 2020 high school graduates who didn't enroll as expected" in 2020 came back in 2021, he said.Even though fewer students are enrolling, that doesn't mean the college doesn't still have value, according to Shapiro. "The value of a college education has not changed," he said. "It's not true for everyone, but for most people if you don't go to college, you're cutting off a lot of potential, future earnings and then job security."

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Los Gatos Town Council makes community policing a priority

Los Gatos Town Council voted unanimously to update its strategic priorities, including replacing police reform, which was on the priorities list in last year’s cycle, with community policing, at a special meeting Tuesday evening.

Los Gatos-Monte Sereno Police Chief Jamie Field said the department is moving away from “police reform language” an instead working on community engagement.

“We’re really looking to establish some police legitimacy, and building that trust and respect in the community,” Field said. “We’re bridging and healing between the police and the community over some of that divide that’s occurred over time.”

Councilmember Marico Sayoc made a motion to acknowledge that Fields’ efforts will provide “an opportunity to help refine what community policing is for Los Gatos in 2022.”

Council evaluates and updates strategic priorities every year to guide its policy decisions. On Feb. 15, council will meet again to set the budget for the strategic priorities for 2022-24.

“This is our opportunity for the council to give staff priorities to work on during the year,” Mayor Rob Rennie said.

The full strategic priority list includes ongoing priorities such as emergency preparedness, fire protection, economic vitality, land use planning, traffic and transportation and financial management, and recently completed projects such as the transfer of the Los Gatos Theatre from the Goetz family of Los Gatos, who had owned the movie theater since 2011, to the town.

Priorities in progress include the 2040 General Plan, the Housing Element and Inclusive community efforts.

Residents brought up concerns about affordable housing, environmental sustainability, wildfire prevention efforts and economic vitality, many of which fall under the 2040 General Plan and strategic priorities updates.

Los Gatos is set to complete its 2040 General Plan, a long-term outline of future growth and development in the community, this year.

The current draft includes a new racial, social and environmental justice element, expanded wildfire and climate change preparedness policies and increased housing opportunities.

Town attorney Rob Schultz, who announced his retirement in November, presented a list of ordinances he and his successor will work on through the next few years, including amendments to the tree protection ordinance and the creation of a single-use disposable food ware and litter reduction ordinance and a commercial cannabis operations and facilities ordinance. A full list of the ordinances can be found on the town’s website.

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Council also voted to keep its core values outlined on the website, but moved to revisit the definitions of each of the values to update them with “modern language.”

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