Three years ago, Rob Stratton was seeking a way to simplify access to online resources for more than 93,000 students and 11,000 staff in Florida’s Lee County School District. Stratton, who is the coordinator for K12 instructional technology for Lee County, wanted students and teachers to spend less time managing accounts through the district’s website and more time using instructional software in the classroom.
“We spent more time talking about how to log in and not enough time about how to use the resources,” Stratton says.
What do you do when your school district grows by 12,000 students in 10 years?
In Rutherford County Schools in central Tennessee, the answer is build. One of the fastest growing districts in the nation, Rutherford’s enrollment rose from 29,600 in 2003-04 to 41,000 this year. It is now the fifth-largest in the state behind districts in Memphis, Nashville, Knoxville and Chattanooga.
When enrollment drops in rural areas, schools are more likely to be consolidated or merged with other small districts, says Ron Zimmer, associate professor of public policy and education at Vanderbilt University, an expert on these trends.
Located in eastern Iowa, the rural Central Community School District comprises just 1,500 students in four schools. Over the past two years, enrollment has dropped by 66 students. “It doesn’t seem like a lot, but in a rural district like ours, that roughly 5 percent enrollment decrease is substantial,” says Superintendent Dan Peterson.
Record lows in student enrollment and staggering budget cuts have forced some of the nation’s largest districts to close schools, a disruption that has often interfered with classroom instruction.
“Many big urban districts have declining enrollment, as there is exodus to the suburbs and charter schools,” says Ron Zimmer, associate professor of public policy and education at Vanderbilt University, an expert on these trends.
Many of the nation’s largest urban school districts have experienced enrolment declines over the past decade, and struggle to keep costs down while losing revenue, a new report found. Half of the 100 largest school districts have seen enrollment decreases from 2005 to 2010, with some declining nearly 33 percent, according to “Adapting to Enrollment Declines in Urban School Systems: Managing Costs While Improving Educational Quality,” from
Daniela Pelaez is the valedictorian of the north Miami (Fla.) Senior High School’s class of 2012. Pelaez, who was offered scholarships to numerous universities, ultimately chose to attend Dartmouth College in the fall. Although the world was seemingly at her fingertips, Pelaez faced deportation in March because she had been brought to the United States from Colombia illegally by her parents at the age of 4. After a series of student protests and pleas from educators and legislators, Pelaez was offered a two-year reprieve and will work on her case to get a visa while at Dartmouth.