14 April 2007

Well, There's Your Problem

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.


Mrs. Bluebird said...

I was living in rural Ohio about 8 years ago when I quit my corporate job and went back to school to become a teacher - they were all yammering about a teacher shortage at the time. Two years later, in part due to a reduction in retirement benefits from the state, teachers stopped retiring. Factories were downsizing, and families were leaving. The district I lived in lost 700 kids...this in a town of 9000. I still have friends in the area who graduated with me in 2001 who aren't teaching because there are no jobs. Hubby and I headed south (we had no ties to the area, especially since his parents had passed away). I now live in an area that can't build schools fast enough...we opened a new elementary last year and within two weeks they had to add portables to handle the enrollment. Our big problem is space and hiring enough quality teachers.

It's weird how some parts of the country they're closing and downsizing, and in others, they can't build them fast enough.

The Science Goddess said...

I moved here in '96, just as things were peaking. We opened three schools in a row---some had rows of portables as soon as they opened. It's so odd how much things have changed in the last 10 years.

Anonymous said...

Sphinchter factor - 9.8.
Hard to believe that there are districts just a few miles away that are not experiencing the incredible shrinkage. This district has just experienced a perfect storm of sorts.

The Science Goddess said...

Finish your internship and then run, don't walk, to the nearest stable school district.

I agree with the sphincter factor on this one. Staying in this district will not be the faint of heart nor flabby of ring muscles.

Anonymous said...

Vermont has the second oldest population and the seocond lowest birth rate, after Maine (I am quoting the governor, so I might be off).

My school is going, very quickly, from 35 - 40 per grade (two classes) to 12-17 per grade (one class). 8 years ago when I started the school had gained 21 kids over the summer (not including kindergarteners) and gained more over the year. Now we don't gain 20 from the end of one year to the next.

My first year we had 220+ students. This year less than 200. Next year less than 180. That's a big drop in 10 years. And this is with no change in the employment in the area.

The Science Goddess said...

Oh, that really hurts. People just aren't makin' babies like they used to. I wish your district well.

Ryan said...

You see the same pattern over here in Eastern Washington--Spokane is losing kids and looking at closing schools, Central Valley gets bigger by a couple 100 kids a year and can't get classroom space fast enough. Adjoining districts, different paths.