Bad Economic Times are happening all around us.
From the Lansing State Journal: Tumbling enrollment: Mid-Mich. cushions the impact by merging schools, closing buildings
Derek Wallbank & Al Miller Lansing State Journal
Cedar Street Elementary aide Kelly Donaldson and her colleagues saw the writing on the wall. Declining enrollment already had forced staff layoffs and program cuts. Then, the Mason school board voted in February to close the 324-student school. "We knew it was coming, but it's really sad," Donaldson said, choking back tears at the meeting where the school board voted unanimously to close the school. "It's like your family."
Experts predict few mid-Michigan parents and students will escape the changes with which local public school districts are grappling as the impact of lower birthrates and families leaving the state combine to create challenges not seen in Michigan public education in decades.
Across the tri-county area, school districts in Lansing, Mason, Eaton Rapids and St. Johns are considering or have implemented plans to close school buildings. Districts such as DeWitt have suspended future growth plans. Others, such as Charlotte, are taking hard looks at how future enrollment melds with existing facilities.
The problem, experts say, is that birthrates across mid-Michigan are down 15 percent in the last two decades. And Michigan's weak economy is exacerbating the problem, causing families to leave the state for economic reasons and curtailing an influx of new families. Michigan, with 1.6 million public school students, will have 20,000 to 25,000 fewer students each year through 2011. Ingham, Eaton and Clinton counties, with more than 71,000 students today, will have about 4,000 fewer by then, according to Fred Ignatovich, a former Michigan State University professor who projects school enrollment for many area districts. "And it might even be heavier if this economic downturn persists," Ignatovich said.
For many mid-Michigan communities, that means a streamlined public education system with fewer teachers and students and more tough decisions about shuttering buildings, neighborhood blight, new taxes and rising educational standards. The changes come at a time when school funding - paid per student - is declining with the loss of each student. If local districts have 4,000 fewer students by 2011, they lose $30 million in state funding.
Question to my Viewers: Aren´t these "smaller economies" what many ANTIs are asking for when they talk about Reduced Immigration Levels and Deporting the 12M?