Michigan School Districts Projected to Face Continued Enrollment Drop
Michigan schools continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic while closely watching another challenge: enrollment numbers.
Data from the state’s Consensus Revenue Estimating Conference shows an enrollment drop projected to continue.
New numbers from the state show public school enrollment projected to drop by 11,951 students in the state’s current fiscal year, 14,600 in the next, but only 8,500 the year after that.
“You don’t lose 14 out of 1st grade, you lose 3 out of Kindergarten, 6 out of 5th grade, 2 out of 7th grade 9 out of 8th grade and so you can’t budgetary adjust for that,” said Roger Cole, Superintendent of Morley Stanwood Schools.
And the budget is where the enrollment decline hits first and sometimes the hardest.
“You can’t say well ten years ago we had this many employees, well that many employees were needed for 1,300, 1,400 now you’re down to 1,250 you just have to keep adjusting your budget that way and the only way to adjust our budget is in the way of personal,” said Jeff Mount, Mason County Central Superintendent.
Schools say the solution to reversing the decline is largely economic.
“You can’t cut your way out of it program wise because you’ll lose more kids than the program your trying to save,” said Cole.
“I think it turns around as the Michigan economy turns around, and we bring back manufacturing to Michigan, and we find some other niches to look into and to find in Michigan, that will bring families back. There has to be employment, and then we want to keep our kids here too you know. As they graduate from high school or graduate from college, we don’t want to be an exporter of our talent, we want to be an importer of our talent,” said Cole.