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Trends in the News

School Enrollment and Student Population

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Hechinger Report, 8/7/19

Anatomy of a failure: How an XQ Super School flopped

Alec Resnick and Shaunalynn Duffy won the $10 million grant in September 2016 as an “XQ Super School,”…The two had spent nearly seven years designing a new kind of high school, Powderhouse Studios. Finances became an insurmountable sticking point for Superintendent Mary Skipper and school committee members, even with $10 million pledged from XQ. State law mandates that Innovation Schools must receive the same amount per pupil as the district’s average, which in Somerville was roughly $17,000 per student. It didn’t seem like Somerville’s comprehensive high school, which enrolls about 1,250 students, could afford to lose 160 students to the new school. Costs for building maintenance, teachers and counselors would change very little, but the school would have millions less to cover them. Justifying the financial toll of a new school is a universal challenge for school designers.

Education Resource Strategies, 4/9/19

ERS report on common ingredients for transforming districts

The District at Work series from national nonprofit Education Resource Strategies (ERS) profiles eight school systems – including large traditional districts and charter networks, all serving high populations of low-income, black and Latinx students – that are gaining traction across a variety of measures like student performance, graduation rates, or support for teachers and school leaders. Each school system tackled a familiar challenge, like adding time for teacher collaboration or guiding principals amidst budget uncertainty. ERS finds one common ingredient: the central office better supported schools by setting a clear vision for success and following through with tough resource tradeoffs and redesigned processes, including roles, timelines, and mindsets. These are the gears that power effective implementation and student results that last. It’s not the next silver bullet – it’s evidence that strategy and implementation matter.

The Inquirer, 10/10/18

As Pa. special-education costs rise, school districts pick up more of the tab

Increases in special-education costs in Pennsylvania are far outpacing increases in the state’s contributions to those expenses, leaving local school districts to pick up bigger shares of the tabs, according to a report released Tuesday. The report said the widening divide between special-education costs and state funding “forces local school boards to choose between raising additional revenue to meet funding gaps, spreading limited resources across a range of programs, and/or reducing needed services and supports for students with disabilities.” Jay Himes, executive director of the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials, said some school districts have reduced resources for regular education programs in order to pay for required special-education expenses.

Reuters, 7/11/18

Failure to educate girls could cost world $30 trillion: report

About 132 million girls worldwide aged 6 to 17 do not attend school, while fewer than two-thirds of those in low-income nations finish primary school, and only a third finish lower secondary school, the World Bank said. If every girl in the world finished 12 years of quality education, lifetime earnings for women could increase by $15 trillion to $30 trillion, according to the report. Other positive impacts of completing secondary school education for girls include a reduction in child marriage, lower fertility rates in countries with high population growth, and reduced child mortality and malnutrition, the World Bank said.

The Atlanta-Journal Constitution, 1/16/18

Georgia school budgets affected by stagnating population growth

Schools are still feeling the effects of the Great Recession, which was followed by a dip in childbirths. Georgia bases its education funding for school districts on their enrollment, and that has basically been static, said Ted Beck, chief financial officer for the Georgia Department of Education. It’s up several thousand students this school year, a blip when compared with the overall enrollment of 1.75 million. Many districts saw a decline in enrollment as well as state funding.

Chalkbeat, 1/10/18

New research estimates the cost of charter growth for districts

“For evaluating the social value of charter schools, a more complete analysis of benefits and costs would be required,” Ladd and Singleton write. “That analysis would have to include any benefits from charter school expansion through greater choice for parents and children, as well as any additional costs in the form of, for example, greater racial or economic isolation.”

In our recent blog post, “How Districts Can Afford Quality Schools Despite Enrollment Decline,” Afton recognized the financial challenges of school districts facing enrollment decline with or without charter school growth, and provided actionable recommendations to balance finances effectively and align it with academic outcomes.

Indy Star, 1/3/18

Fix proposed for Indiana’s $11.8 million school funding gap

The state’s annual student count in September found about 6,000 more public school students than lawmakers had budgeted for when they passed the two-year state budget last year, potentially creating an $11.8 million gap in school funding. That would equate to cuts of about $11 per student, according to the analysis from the legislative services agency. The cuts would impact all schools that receive state dollars — traditional public, public charter and private schools receiving public vouchers.

WHIO-TV, 4/15/17

Panel: Indianapolis should close 3 of 7 public high schools

Most of the district lies in Center Township, where the population has fallen by 194,424 since 1950 while the population of the surrounding townships more than tripled. The report also cites enrollment growth at charter schools and at private schools, which have benefited from Indiana’s voucher program. One of the nation’s largest, the program enables parents to use public funds to send their children to non-public schools.

Tulsa World, 4/4/17

44 more districts mull shorter school year amid cuts, state survey shows

Oklahoma: A revenue failure was declared for the current fiscal year, requiring cuts to state-appropriated agencies, including the Oklahoma State Department of Education. The school board and administrators associations estimate that because of student enrollment increases amid all reductions for the current year, schools have about $160 less to spend per student than they did in 2015-16.

Urban Institute, 3/23/17

Subtracting schools from communities

Urban researchers who study intersections between education and community development find that planning efforts are seldom aligned—but perhaps they should be. After all, a stable population base is critical for school enrollment, and good schools build a stronger community. But political buy-in for community transformation as a means of school transformation can be difficult.