Thousands of Public Schools at Risk of Closing as Enrollment Declines

Maybe it is about TIME!

In a trend that began with the pandemic, data shows ongoing school enrollment issues, and thousands of public schools nationwide are at risk of closing. According to the Department of Education , in 2023, 1.8 million fewer students enrolled in public schools nationwide compared to 2019.

Less students means less funding for schools, and with federal relief funding dwindling, schools are closing.

Jackson, Mississippi, has seen 11 schools close their doors, some of which have experienced a 30% drop in enrollment since 2018. That trend is not exclusive to Mississippi.

A Brookings Institute study showed that 11% of elementary schools and 9% of middle schools in the U.S. saw more than a 20% decline in enrollment, up from 5% in the years leading up to the pandemic. The data points to troubling days ahead for the American public school system.

“We are expecting more school closures in the next year or two as a result of the federal relief money running out,” Research Professor and Director of the Edunomics Lab at Georgetown University Marguerite Roza told NBC News in August.

RELATED: Over 1,400 California Public K-12 Schools Lost More Than 20% of Their Students

With enrollment threatening public schools across America, it is not the only crisis they face.

The number of students missing 10% of school days nearly doubled from the 2018-2019 school year to the 2021-2022, and it has not improved much.

RELATED: Thousands of Schools Across the Country at Risk of Closing

Federal data analyzed by Johns Hopkins showed nearly 30% of students nationwide were chronically absent from school during the 2021-20-22 school year. That means more than 14 million students missed 18 or more school days, only adding pressure to the public school system.

In contrast, homeschooling rates have skyrocketed since the beginning of the pandemic, and private schools saw an increase in enrollment as well. Still, researchers at the Brookings Institute said that does not account for the total drop in enrollment at public schools. Other researchers cite the declining birthrate in the U.S. and the record levels of migration out of cities as playing a part in the enrollment decline.

Written by Karah Rucker for Straight Arrow News ~ January 11, 2024

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