"Real liberty is neither found in despotism or the extremes of democracy, but in moderate governments.
Alexander Hamilton

Monday, January 12, 2015

NH student enrollment continues to decline

(This was in Sunday''s Union Leader. It's hard to predict the future, but the trend is clear: 12 straight years of enrollment drops state wide. As we've learned here in our own school district, it isn't a linear equation to reduce costs and there are spikes in specific age groups that can make it more complicated. Sandwich for example may need to hire another teacher as it thinks about splitting a class of 27 students in the fourth and fifth grade classroom.  I doubt anyone really knows if or when things will change. With an aging population that at least statistically appears  to be buying housing units without children under 18, the nations lowest birthrate and a severe drop in the "Mass. migration", hard to say if it will level out at some point or continue to decline.  A final thought is that while good schools can be  a magnet, it doesn't seem to matter much to recent immigrants that do not have school age children.) 
NH student enrollment continues to decline
There are many reasons why the numbers are dropping, but this gives districts a chance to reassess how tax dollars are spent on schools.
The number of students enrolled in schools across New Hampshire has consistentlydropped each year for more than a decade, and with that trend expected to continue, school administrators say an opportunity exists to examine how andwhere taxpayer dollars are spent in local districts.
“I don’t expect that the enrollment numbers will start going up again soon,” said Mark Joyce, executive director of the New Hampshire School Administrators Association. “The impact on a budget won’t be seen right away, but over timethe answer is yes, districts will have a chance to look at what they are spending and where it’s spent.”
According to statistics from the state’s Department of Education, student enrollment across all public, private and charter schools in New Hampshire for the 2013-14 school year totaled 203,414. That’s down from 206,435 in 2012-13, and 209,495 in 2011-12. The figure represents the 12th straight year total enrollments have dropped in the Granite State, dating back to 2002-03, the high water mark in terms of enrollment, at 231,499 students.
On a county by countybasis, Hillsborough County saw the largest drop in students enrolled in public schools over a 10-year period from 2003 to 2013, down 6,753 students. Rockingham County saw the second largest drop with 3,748 students. Sullivan County saw the smallest reduction, down 1,013 students over the same 10-year time frame, according to state statistics.
According to a study by the New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority, all but 31 of the state’s 161 school districts experienced declining enrollment from 2001 to 2010. Of those experiencing enrollment growth, only eight districts added 100 or more students.
What’s at play
The study concludes that demographic forces have more impact on student enrollment figures than housing construction. The study finds, based on analysis of new housing in four communities — Belmont, Milford, Rochester and Windham — the typical new single-family home generates 0.64 public school students on average, and new multi-family units generate 0.17 public school students per unit.
The study reports between 2000 and 2010, enrollment in the state’s schools declined by 21,600 students, despite the creation of 44,300 occupied housing units. Currently, fewer than one-third of New Hampshire’s housing units have someone under age 18 living in them.
Joyce said several factors are at play in New Hampshire, any or all of which contribute to the declining numbers.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, New Hampshire has the nation’s lowest birth rate at 9.4 births per 1,000 people. The national rate is currently 12 per 1,000 people.
An aging population
According to a report from the Carsey Institute at the University of New Hampshire, the state’s population is aging quickly, with the number of births exceeding deaths by just 45,300 from 2000 to 2010. The drop in the state’s birth rate could in part be attributed to a drop in the number of New Hampshire residents aged 25 to 44, considered childbearing years. That age group fell by 57,000 over 10 years, and New Hampshire’s largest demographic group is those between the ages of 45 and 54.
Some of the decline can also be blamed on migration, according to the Carsey Institute’s research. New Hampshire home prices topped out in June 2005, a year that saw 16,300 Massachusetts residents move here. The number dropped to 10,100 in 2010.
Looking to future
Several districts aroundthe state have begun looking at future facility needs, based on declining enrollment projections.
Derry school officials held a public forum in November to hear the results of a facility needs assessment for grades K-8, conducted by Joyce. The study predicted a decline in enrollment through the 2024-25 school year, and “under-crowding” based on state and local class size standards. One of five options it presents is the closure of a school.
“We are in the very earlystages of looking at the options,” said Derry Superintendent of Schools Laura Nelson. “We are putting together a committee and anticipate the process will take between 15 and 18 months.”
Nelson said if a decision to close a school were made,the cost savings would go back to residents.
“The result would be tax relief,” said Nelson. “We wouldn’t look at what we could spend the money on. To be honest with you, it would go back to the taxpayers.”
School closing
In Salem, school officials voted in October to close the Haigh School, due in part to declining student enrollmentfigures. The move saved the district an estimated $800,000 in costs, yet the proposed fiscal year 2016 school budget of $65.4 million represents a $1.2 million hike over the current year’s budget. Most of that is due to interest and principal on debt associated with school renovation projects approved by voters.
Joyce said having fewerstudents in classrooms doesn’t always save districts money — at least, not in the short term.
“Losing two students per grade in a district in a year isn’t going to have much of an effect on a budget,” said Joyce. “You still need the same number of teachers, you still have to heat the schools. It’s when those declines continue, over time opportunities develop to look at how and where funds are being spent.”


Joe Cormier/jcormier2@myfairpoint.net said...

Read the article in the Sunday paper, as well (home delivery of Sunday paper only, but provides for on-line daily).

What puzzles me is "NH" ... should not the focus of this phenomenon. It is nation-wide.

Can't believe the internal MoBo "marketing" of "the Gym". What if it had been pushed more strenuously as a "boomer center".

Boomers are "a guerilla coming down the track"!


Dated, but ...



Anonymous said...

Joe, the last major rec building proposed next to the lions club, was pure rec, then when they could not get the support, it was re-branded Rec - Senior Center, tho very little space dedicated to seniors. It was a transparent ruse. The seniors knew they would have to pay for that thing, faux silo and all. They said no Thankyou
It was another example of the problem that stops all our future plans. Mr Overkill with big lakefront money is going to have to go, so we can do practical. Practical includes citizens on building committee, and sound construction practices, and supervision.

Good Score said...

As we are near the top in $$ per student, perhaps they could at least " hold the fort ". GOOD news tho, our central school is now ranked as 9th in the top 50. Congratulations to Mrs Noyes for that return on our investment.
Still worried about M A tho, the school board " All Sports " drive.....if they add a new one, eliminate an old one. Meredith Interlakes kids decided they wanted Lacrosse, and raised $ 9,000 for it, but did not have enough kids., so they came to us. When do our H S students find time to study? Can we have a Lacrosse field on the Taylor property?

Can you say SB2 said...

School Board meeting tomorrow, January 13, @ 7 pm in the town hall. Good time to air concerns, before March Town Meeting. Believe it or not Mr. & Mrs. Taxpayer some parents and School Board members do not see declining enrollment as a reason to cut spending.

Anonymous said...

804 people per day moving into Florida......tho1/3 are " undocumented immigrants..

1959 Fl passed one Million, Now 20,000,000. And they do not have frost heves on the highways.

Anonymous said...

I live in Florida and was actually thinking of relocating my family to my fair summer town..until I started reading here. I have two amazing children that I wanted the finest for. I just turned 40. Without the support of the local elders Moultonboro does not have a chance. I have always dreamed of a return and to become an active investor and participant in what I believed was one of the finest places on earth. I have combed this blog for days now. Utterly shocked at what I read for such a small community to be at odds with its government, schools, and each other. I suggest most of you DO move to Florida..no frost heaves and the illegals are now all legal with the stroke of a pen. That town deserves better much better than the baby boomer, non creators, that do nothing but look out for themselves and gossip about each other. Pathetic!

Joe Cormier/jcormier2@myfairpoint.net said...

"I live in Florida and was actually thinking of relocating my family to my fair summer town..until I started reading here"

Careful ... a different Jo!


Off Deep End?. said...

Posted at 5:07. Sorry your knickers are in such a twist...you seem to have read a lot between the lines, that is not there. If you want a feel good view, read the Meredith paper. If you want to understand what we need to fix, stay tuned.
We are safe 24 hours per day, at the ATM. Or the gas station....do not do that after dark in Florida.
For sure, the seniors support this town..where do you think the $$ comes from? Thank goodness we have people looking to see it is well spent.

QT around Town said...

Anon at 5:07
"That town deserves much better than the baby boomers, non creators that do nothing do nothing but look out for themselves and gossip about each other."

What is pathetic is that your comment is equally negative as some and oh so boastful. Many people in this town are not so lucky to have a summer home anywhere but their one own home. Some people in this town are squeaking by because they do not have a decent job and see their tax dollars raise year after year by indiscriminate town employees that are too happy to spend the tax $'s provided by our waterfront owners.
Florida is getting an influx of new citizen thus causing the tax rate to rise to provide necessary services including but not limited to schools. Here in NH there is a brain drain and not enough decent jobs to support young families. How very fortunate you are that you are not one to struggle daily. At least here in M'boro there is this blog as a sounding board for those of us humble folks. Go on. Enjoy your Florida. We'll stick out the harsh winter so you don't have to.

Winter blues said...

Let's keep some perspective here. Those that make more than $33,000 per year are in the global top 1%. We have the disadvantaged in town, but the overall tax rate is very low, all things considered. Perhaps Anon 5:07 is speaking tongue in cheek to tweak the conversation here in the dead of winter. One advantage of sticking out the winter here is that the true locals (including the disadvantaged) get to vote in March and spend the tax money of those that leave. Seems to be a fair trade.

Anonymous said...

Sadly it's true that there is a disconnect between the population with school-aged children and those without. It's extremely disheartening considering HOW MUCH our children at MCS and MA go above and beyond to do for the community, yet god forbid we get SIDEWALKS so that parents don't have to worry about their children being run over by traffic on the main road walking to the TOO SMALL Rec dept. These blog comments only make me more motivated to gather more and more of the hard working parents in this town... last year we lost by 1 vote. Thank you for my new resolve.

Anonymous said...

As I recall, the discussion about safe after school travel between school grounds and the rec center pertained to a relatively small number of students. I was pleased to learn that the town provided a jitney bus to transport students to the Rec Center. I was equally surprised to hear that part of the problem was that a few of the kids preferred to walk to the Rec Center because they wanted to buy snacks at Murphys Store and the jitney didn't or couldn't stop to accommodate them. The notion of adding millions of dollars of sidewalks to convert a 'non-existent' downtown into a 'non-existent downtown with sidewalks' is a debate that shouldn't be clouded by the cost of a brown paper bag and a few twinkees. The negative trends in this town's demographics are not happening by accident...moronic, myopic self-interest leads to a very predictable conclusion....and we're well on our way.

Anonymous said...

It's my understanding the school added a variety of new snacks so the kids don't have to leave school grounds.

Whatever happened to the concept of parents packing a few snacks for their kids?

Munchies said...

No snacks at the Rec Center? Missed opportunity......

Anonymous said...

The after school program at the Rec Dept only involves 5 to 7 kids, who are there because it is " UN structured, and they can do what ever they want...
See the Michael Branley report, that goes on to Reccomend that the program be folded into the school program. For sure, they are not teaching how to count over at Rec....never see a count.