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Increasing Enrollment In the Metro Area: Where Are All the Children Coming From?

More hands are being raised in public school classrooms as enrollment increases across the Kansas City metropolitan area. Art Credit: 123rf stock image

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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About jwmartinez

JoLynne is a journalist and educator. She holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Kansas and a Master of Arts in Teaching from Park University and is certified to teach high school journalism and English. Former employment includes work for Cable News Network and the University of Missouri-Kansas City in addition to freelancing for clients such as the Kansas City Star and The Pitch.


4 thoughts on “Increasing Enrollment In the Metro Area: Where Are All the Children Coming From?

  1. We are being told in Shawnee Mission that enrollment is drastically dropping. Thus, they’ve closed so many buildings and are re-tooling boundaries. Elementary schools were added onto with the last bond issue, making them mega schools. So much for research on big schools vs. small schools! Just look at the new Nieman Elementary and Apache Elementary. Huge elementary schools. Now, count the number of schools that have
    closed. Curious, are families running away from Shawnee Mission and if so, why? That would make interesting research.

    Posted by Janet Reynolds | August 24, 2011, 1:37 pm
  2. Yes, when I was looking at the statistics, Because the Shawnee Mission Schools have a national reputation for the quality o their education, I was surprised to see they had been losing students and was wondering why, myself. Their decline in numbers is despite the fact that enrollment in the state of Kansas is growing generally at a more rapid rate than enrollment in Missouri. According to KansasWatchdog.org, enrollment has increased in the Olathe School District at about the same rate it has declined in Shawnee Mission: http://kansas.watchdog.org/6095/comparing-payrolls-olathe-and-shawnee-mission-school-districts/ Maybe people are moving south in the suburbs?

    Posted by jwmartinez | August 24, 2011, 5:34 pm


  1. Pingback: Like Growing Kids Need New Shoes, NKC Needs More Classrooms « KC Education Enterprise - October 26, 2011

  2. Pingback: Happy New (Fiscal) Year! « KC Education Enterprise - July 2, 2012

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