Friday, April 25, 2008

Where are all the children?

About 250 fewer students will attend Edmonds School District schools next fall, which could cost the district about $1.25 million. This past school year, the district was down almost 400 students.

No one knows exactly why enrollment is dropping, but housing prices, changing demographics and online education could be factors.

"Families stay on and we're not having new, young families replace them," said Dale Cote, principal of Meadowdale High School.

The high school is expected to lose about 70 students next year.

Even many teachers can't afford to live near Meadowdale. "We have teachers that commute from Snohomish and Lake Stevens because it's where they can afford," Cote said.

Debbie Jakala, communications director for the district, lives in Mountlake Terrace. There used to be about 25 kids with their big wheels in the neighborhood, and now there's only five children, with one headed off to college, she said.

About 40 years ago, the district had the opposite problem: a boom of families moving in. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the district built several elementary schools to handle the boom. At one point, there were about 30,000 students in the district, Jakala said. The district expects just over 20,000 for next year.

Changing social customs might also contribute to the loss, Jakala said. Many people are waiting until they are in their 30s or even early 40s to have children, rather than starting families in their early 20s as in earlier eras.

As for students leaving to other districts, the amount of students who leave is balanced by the number of students coming in, Jakala said. The number for both is roughly about 600, she said.

Some students also are lost to the growing world of online education.

The Edmonds School District surveyed families in 2007 and found more than 40 students who said they were planning to enroll in an online school in fall 2007.

As of November 2007, the district had 20,352 students, down from 20,725 in 2006-07.

Next fall, it estimates it will have just over 20,000 students.

Read the rest of the article by clicking here.

Sarah Koenig
Enterprise reporter

Editorial: Now who is going to clean up all of these dead canaries?


Anonymous said...

If I was buying a house I would be very careful about the school district associated with the house. If it was Edmonds, I'd be VERY concerned. Any district that considers cutting librarians is a district that is making unwise decisions about the use of their money.
(I'm not a librarian; not married to a librarian; not the son of a librarian. I just believe that every school deserves a full time librarian.)

Anonymous said...


Any knowledge of how the PRIVATE schools in our area are faring? If they are seeing an enrollment boom, then I think we could make some logical conclusions about the local perceptions of schools and the district. Without that data though we are just talking about hypotheticals.

Secondly, I'd be interested to know if you (as the son of a librarian) can be objective here. You have called for the district to be accountable to its users and voters. We have elementary schools that should have been closed a few years ago. If a student count at a school is between 170 and 225, just how many full time staff members should these schools get to have???

Anonymous said...

Could it be that the climate and quality of the Edmonds School District is considerably different than it was in the sixties and seventies?

When I recently relocated, maintaining a residence within the Edmonds School District was even on the list of "desirable qualities."

Anonymous said...

It would be safe to say that there are few districts that are working with the same demographics as they had in the '60's and '70's.

Schools operate on a finite budget; it is always smaller than it should be. I remember in the '50's, we had newspaper drives in March every year so that we would have enough lined paper to get through to June. We would nearly fill an elementary gym with paper, ignoring the fire hazard created. Back then, parents were not expected to buy a ream of paper and a box of Kleenex at the beginning of the school year; the schools were expected to provide that. Times have changed but the financing hasn't.

Given the chronic underfunding of schools in this State, we will always have to make a choice from several crappy options. This group of administrators will make one set of choices. A different group would make a different set and nobody would be happy with those either.

I got a mailing from my Republican State rep the other day decrying the fact that the Democrats have increased the budget by 33% since 2004. Hypothesis: Perhaps someone failed to adaquately fund anything in the previous 10.

Just a thought, but education is always an easy target for politicians to make it look like they are doing something about "runaway" spending.