Committee Releases Report on Declining Enrollment in Small Michigan School DistrictsContact:
Susan Shafer (517) 335-6397
November 27, 2002
The Governor’s Committee to Study Declining Enrollment in Small School Districts today submitted its report to the Michigan legislature. The Committee was established in 2001 by Governor John Engler to examine how to restructure the delivery and administration of services and programs in these small, declining-enrollment districts.
"I wish to thank the committee members for their thorough job in making recommendations to deal with the issue of declining enrollment," said Engler. "I look forward to working with the legislature and others in taking the steps necessary to assist school districts with this problem."
Committee members held hearings around the state to gather public input about the declining enrollment problem. They also looked at recent economic and census data, results from a district-by-district survey, and school district information contained in the Standard & Poor’s "school evaluation services" program.
School districts identified a number of reasons for declining enrollment, including low birth rates and the loss or lack of industry within a school district’s boundaries.
After reviewing the available information, the study committee arrived at the following recommendations:
Declining Enrollment Report Part I Declining Enrollment Report Part II Declining Enrollment Report Part III Declining Enrollment Report Part IV Declining Enrollment Report Part V
- The Michigan Virtual University/Michigan Virtual High School and e-Michigan should work together to establish a rural schools electronic network to provide small declining enrollment districts with alternative solutions to gain greater access to instructional and professional development services;
- Rural school districts and the communities that surround them should utilize a new program created by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation called the Community Assistance Team;
- State lawmakers and other officials should work to refine the formula and fund sparsity supplement within the school aid act;
- Intermediate school districts (ISDs) should help small, rural school districts that have large geographic boundaries explore alternative methods of providing educational services;
- Small, declining-enrollment districts should work to establish cooperative arrangements for the performance of various "back-room" administrative functions;
- State colleges of education should offer coursework in rural education methods;
- Certain school districts should be authorized to hire "adjunct" faculty members;
- The Michigan Department of Education should provide assistance to rural school districts so they may fully benefit from the new rural schools provisions contained in the Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act;
- The legislature should establish minimum standards for ISDs that may result in ISD consolidation;
- 6The Department of Education should seek to determine the cost savings that would result if pupil accounting methods were revised for school districts with fewer than 600 students;
- The legislature should seek to provide incentives to districts that consolidate by authorizing the use of the foundation allowance of the district that receives more money per pupil;
- Small, declining-enrollment districts should aggressive pursue classroom arrangements that incorporate multi-age and multi-grade configurations;
- The research and study of rural education issues should not conclude with the presentation of this report. Academicians and educational specialists throughout Michigan are urged to consider this issue carefully; and
- The legislature should consider revisiting the blended pupil count formula in order to provide greater equity for all schools.