Student enrollment in public and private schools in New Hampshire has fallen every year for nearly a decade — and a sluggish economy is making the trend more difficult to reverse, experts say.
By MICHAEL COUSINEAU
New Hampshire Sunday News
The enrollment slowdown has allowed districts to reduce staff and in some cases, to forgo constructing more space to relieve overcrowding.
But other items, including health care for employees and heating oil for buildings, have risen sharply from a decade ago and hiked school budgets, according to superintendents.
“Fewer people are coming to New Hampshire and more are leaving,” said Kenneth Johnson, senior demographer with the Carsey Institute at the University of New Hampshire.
Over the last five years, the number of people coming to the state dropped by 26 percent while the number of people leaving dropped by 17 percent, Johnson said. Births in 2010 were down nearly 11 percent compared with 2005, a trend Johnson blames partly on the recession.
Counting public, private, charter and home-schooled students, the total student enrollment in New Hampshire for the 2011-12 school year totaled 214,778 — a drop of 8.9 percent from levels seen during the 2002-03 school year, the highest enrollment in state history, according to a Sunday News review of enrollment figures.
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