Written by Don Ratzlaff Wednesday, 26 March 2008 09:29
USD 410’s latest budget challenge is surprising only in its timing. Word of an ongoing enrollment decline within the district has surfaced every so often. Most of us simply got used to the way the administration was able to absorb the accompanying reductions in state aid with little or no visible impact from the outside. Now to hear somewhat suddenly and urgently that the situation is serious enough to consider staff reductions is disconcerting.
The enrollment numbers USD 410 is tracking suggest the budget challenge is not a one-time anomaly. From September 1997 to September 2007, the enrollment of students in the district declined from 782 to 607, a loss of 175 students over 10 years. If the trend holds true as projected, the district will lose 67 students more in the next five years.
A lot of strong minds and good hearts are working on a strategy for the short term. We can be assured that the education of our children will be the priority concern. The more puzzling long-term challenge is finding ways to grow the population of not only Hillsboro, but also Marion County because the other four school districts within our borders are facing the same challenges. As difficult as it to cut a budget, the challenge of growing a population is even more sobering. —DR