Steady enrollment decline projected in ISD 194
Next five years see potential revenue decreases
According to the estimate of State Demographer Tom Gillaspy, by 2020 the number of Minnesotans of retirement age will exceed that of children in the K-12 age bracket. Lakeville’s public school system is already experiencing that dynamic change.
Demographic consultant Hazel Reinhardt projects the district will lose between 143 and 651 students over the next five years, with the weight toward the larger number.She attributes the decline to the aging of the residents in the district’s attendance area.
“The district’s population is aging out of the prime childbearing years,” she said in a presentation to the Lakeville School Board earlier this month. So with more empty-nesters and an increasing focus on senior housing, there are fewer children to attend the schools.
To add to that, Reinhardt said that fewer single-family, detached houses are being built. This poses a problem for the district because “90 percent of resident students come from the single-family detached units.” An additional issue is reduced “migration.” Depressed housing prices means that fewer people are likely to sell their homes elsewhere to moved to Lakeville.
Director of Business Services Mark Klett said it was difficult to quantify the loss of revenue from the declining enrollment.
The district receives from the state an average of about $5,124 per pupil enrolled in the district (on the last day of school, not the first). The exact number depends on the grade a student is in – High school students get more funding than elementary kids, Klett said.
Based on that average value, the potential revenue loss could range from about $732,000 to more than $3.3 million over the next five years.
“At this point, our point is not to try to project revenues,” Klett said, referring to predictions for fiscal years 2014-16. “The point is that obviously declining enrollment means that without an increase in state aid we’ll see really tough revenue times.”
To compound this reduced state aid, the increasing proliferation of empty-nester households will result in a community with less of a vested interest in its school system, Reinhardt said. This means the opportunities for levy referenda to pass become even less likely than in previous years.
Kindergarten attendance is often the canary in the coal mine.
“Beginning in 2006-07, kindergarten becomes smaller than the previous year’s Grade 12,” Reinhardt said in her presentation. To top it off, net migration into the district has declined over the years. What happens is that later grades become larger than the earlier grades, thus creating a smaller overall student body as the earlier grades age.
Another problem the district faces is competition with neighboring school districts, home-schooling options and private schools.
In 2010-2011, about 700 students who live in the Lakeville district open-enrolled in another district. About 300 students open-enrolled into the Lakeville school district, according to Reinhardt’s report.
Among the reasons she gave for students enrolling in another district included:
• Proximity to a school in another district;
• Socioeconomic status;
•Preference for either a small school or a large school; and
School Board Member Bob Erickson said at a recent school board meeting that programs such as Kindergarten Plus and IGNITE!, the gifted and talented program, could help stave off some open-enrollment families.
“I’m advocating that we continue to work aggressively” with our programs, Erickson said. “To me, the plan should be established as soon as possible so we can work against the outward migration.”