Last week I published a blog that again pointed to the ongoing problem the Grosse Pointe Public School System faces in student enrollment. It had more views than many of my posts and I read some interesting comments that encouraged me to go a layer deeper on the data analysis.
Here’s a slide deck I created to share some of the pertinent views.
Despite a loss of over 1,000 students since 2005, and an expectation that enrollment might stabilize, the future looks equally troubling.
Elementary enrollment is decreasing at a rate four times greater than the secondary level. As those losses work their way toward the secondary level, aggregate enrollment will continue to drop.
Imbalance across the district is also striking, but perhaps unexpectedly. South High School feeder schools enrollment loss is occurring at a rate three times greater than North High School equivalents. If these trajectories hold, and it looks like they will, the once nearly 400 student gap between the high schools will close over the next couple of years.
A couple highlights on that front. If next year’s projections hold true, Defer Elementary, a major South feeder school, will have lost over one-third of its enrollment since 2003. It will have a mere 19 more students that Trombly.
Meanwhile on the north end, Mason Elementary has been the only elementary school to experience an increase in enrollment from 2003 to 2014. Fellow North High School feeder Poupard Elementary is tied with Kerby as having second best enrollment trend in this same time period – even if it is a 2% loss. That is still significant because it is so much less than the district’s overall loss rate.
The only thing I like about this data is that it will challenge the overly simple, and really misinformed, view that school test scores are the major driver in enrollment. The data doesn’t support that conclusion.
I also think the magnitude of the enrollment reductions cannot be attributed to private school enrollment or the half-day kindergarten issue. These trends are very clearly population based. In ensuing posts I hope to cross reference this enrollment data against census data to get an even better view.
The implications for budgeting are significant. District administration will need very tight projections by school and grade level, balanced against class size guidelines, to make the staffing decisions that are required in April. Missteps here can introduce major budget challenges.