On August 16, 2012, the Empire Center for New York State Policy released a report titled “The Graying of the Empire State” (linked here). As we mentioned in our July 26, 2012 post, “School District Enrollments Falling, Compounding Fiscal Challenges” (linked here), there are many suspected reasons for the falling enrollments that are challenging school districts around the country. However, “The Graying of the Empire State” shows that New York’s problem of declining school enrollments has at least one clear, driving force: its aging population.
This problem is particularly evident in Upstate New York, where between 2000-2010, the percentage of population by age group for 19 and under fell by 8.4 percent. New York City also suffered a large drop of 7.4 percent in the same age group for that time period. Although the “Downstate Suburbs” (defined for purposes of the report as Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Westchester, Nassau and Suffolk counties) fared better during the same time period than their Upstate and New York City neighbors, with a 0.7 percent drop in percentage of population for the 19 and under age group, they still lag behind the nationwide 3.5 percent gain in the same age group for that time period.
This report makes it clear that the problem of declining enrollments facing school districts throughout New York is particularly severe even when compared to the troubles faced by school districts nationwide. As we mentioned in our July 26, 2012 post, these declining enrollments will only continue the economic difficulties facing many school districts given the school financing system which allocates monies on a per pupil basis.