The picture above is the enrollment forecast for the district. Pretty, huh? Nearly a year ago, I posted about our incredible shrinking school district; however, it described losing "only" 1000 students between that point and 2010. This was in addition to the 1000 student dip in the enrollment the district has had since I moved here. Now, we're figuring in another 1000. Ouch.
Where will 2000 children go in five years? Are parents making good on threats to sell them to the gypsies? Are there more boogeymen per capita in this area than other parts of the country, gobbling up children each night? The basic answer is simply that they are graduating. It's a good thing that kids grow up and head out into the great wide world. The other portion of the answer is that we are enrolling fewer and fewer kindergartners each year---hundreds less in number than the senior classes which leave us.
A lower enrollment means less money from the state, which then trickles down to programs throughout the district. I think about all of the heartache this year with school closure (we already have 1800 empty seats k-6...enough to close 4 schools instead of just the 2) and cuts to programs across the district, I cannot imagine how we are going to keep from fracturing into a million tiny pieces fighting each year about continued closures and cuts. Even with declining enrollment, we can balance our budgets by cutting $5M per year until then...but that's a lotta money to find. I don't know how the community is going to hang in there with us. This year has already resulted in some nasty scars. Is there a silver lining here? I hope we can find one.