Saving Your Schools, Creatively

By Charles K. Trainor

Enrollment is declining in many school districts around the country. The causes vary. A common scenario is when a major employer moves out of town or a national chain store decides to close a regional branch. Families move to other towns in search of job opportunities. Home prices fall. Downtown merchants no longer have the customer traffic necessary to survive. Soon, they too close up shop and move away, leaving behind more unemployment. These economic stressors ultimately lead to fewer students in the area districts.

Declining enrollment also occurs in areas where mining, logging, or fishing industries are major employers. As natural resources diminish or businesses close, families also may make the decision to leave the area in search of other employment. Similarly, declining enrollment may result from military bases closing. Legislative actions that limit economic expansion or place restrictions on land development also may affect enrollment. 

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