Education: 2. Vermont’s Student Enrollment Trends

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Education

Declining Student Enrollment

According to the preamble of Act 46, the number of grade K-12 students enrolled in public schools in Vermont declined from 103,000 in 1997 to 78,300 in 2015, a staggering 24% decrease. Grade K-12 enrollment declined a further 1.5% in 2016, as follows:

 

Public School Enrollment: 2015/2016 School-Year

 

Grade Enrollment
K-12 77,078
Pre-K 6,242
Essential Early Education (special education for pre-school age children) 1,059
Total Public Schools 84,379
Other Publically Funded Students 4,475
Total Publically Funded Students 88,854

Source: Vermont Agency of Education 2017 Budget Book

Key Observations

High Per Pupil Education Costs: Total education costs have been consistently increasing as student enrollment has been consistently decreasing, which is not sustainable in the long run.

Challenged Student Enrollment

There are two important federal grant programs available to local schools for disadvantaged students. IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) grants are available for special education and Title I grants are available for low-income school districts.

There is hard empirical evidence that education outcomes for affluent students exceed those achieved for low income students, and Title I was put in place to help close this gap. To qualify, a school district needs to meet certain low-income thresholds.

40% or more of the students must be from households with “low income”, as defined by the US Census Bureau. The US Census Bureau currently defines “low income” as household income of $45,000 or less. Sadly, 48% of USA households now meet this test. As illustrated below, the majority of Vermont school districts qualify for grants under Title I.

Student Support Programs Enrollment in Vermont: 2015/2016 School-Year(Categories are not exclusive)

 

Program Enrollment
Special Education (age 3-21) 13,885
Title I 52,963
Homeless 1,124

Source: Vermont Agency of Education 2017 Budget Book

Key Observations

High Proportion of Low-Income Students: The enrollment of “low-income” students in Vermont is approaching 60%.

High Proportion of Special Education Students: Special Education enrollment represent almost 16% of total publically funded students.

 

 

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