Story after story in the KC Education Enterpriselately has been about districts building and renovating public schools across the metropolitan area. Gardner-Edgerton is buying land for future expansion. Liberty is completing its new high school in three phases. De Soto is unable to complete the third phase of high school renovations as a result of the economic downturn. Independence just broke ground for a new elementary school. Time and again administrators say they need to build more classroom space to relieve overcrowding.
Public enrollment has been on the rise across the metropolitan area. Yes, the number of students is decreasing in some districts, but overall the trend is clear:
Rising local enrollment reflects a national trend. According to information on the U.S. Department of Education’s website, public school enrollment has been generally growing nationwide since 1985. The number of students is larger now than when the baby boomers were school-aged. In 2008, the most recent year for which national information is available, public school students totaled more than 49 million. According to projections from the department’s National Center for Education Statistics, enrollment will most likely expand to more than 57 million over the next decade.
Of course, it isn’t just the number of students that is growing. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the United States population will continue increasing until at least 2030 and perhaps well into the middle of the century. A growing number of births and immigration are the reasons for this expansion, according to the Census Bureau’s Population Profile of the United States.
“After 2011, the number of births each year would exceed the highest annual number of births ever achieved in the United States,” the report states. “Almost one-third of the current population growth is caused by net immigration. By 2000, the Nation’s population is projected to be 8 million larger than it would have been if there were no net immigration after July 1, 1992. By 2050, this difference would increase to 82 million. In fact, about 86 percent of the population growth during the year 2050 may be due to the effects of post-1992 net immigration.”
In other words, it looks like the districts in the Kansas City metropolitan area will continue building new schools for the foreseeable future. The next question is, where will the money come from to build them?
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