It’s been an unquestioned assumption of modern urban or suburban life: each year schools get more and more students. Meeting that need has meant hiring more teachers and staff helped to fuel ever-growing education budgets.
Earlier this week Mike Petrilli of the Fordham Institute sought to put the brakes on that idea in a blog post where he pointed out that since 2007, the US birth rate has declined 9 percent. Petrilli also notes that over the last six years, 48 states have experienced birth declines, including North Carolina whose K-12 student population has declined 9.2 percent.
Declining populations have already arrived in many rural counties in North Carolina and across the United States. While there are always exceptions in certain areas, the overall trend lines are clear.
Since school system costs are driven largely by student population, we’ll be hearing a lot about shrinking budgets and possible layoffs. Dealing with those issues is never easy. However it’s good to remember the context: there are fewer and fewer students.