Fewer jobs, fewer kids for schools

SANDUSKY More than just the economy is feeling the effects of job shortages in the area.
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010



More than just the economy is feeling the effects of job shortages in the area.

Area schools are blaming the lack of jobs as one of the main reasons for declining school enrollment.

"The manufacturing plants have moved out. We have become a retirement community and a tourist community. New families with young kids aren't being attracted to our area," said Pat Adkins, Port Clinton schools superintendent.

Port Clinton schools closed two buildings, Portage and Catawba elementary schools, in June. Adkins said the district has lost more than 200 students in the last 10 years, and even more in the last 30.

"We've lost 1,400 kids since the late 1970s, which is almost our entire student population now," Adkins said. "You end up with situations with reducing the staff because you have less students."

The district has five fewer teachers, five fewer classified staff and one fewer principal than it did recently . Adkins added the employees were not laid off; the district did not replace those positions when the employees retired.

The Margaretta district is also experiencing changes due to lower enrollment. Treasurer Jude Hammond said declining enrollment has a trickle-down effect and puts districts in a tough spot.

Fewer students means less money from the state, but it doesn't always open up opportunities for cuts within the district. To save money, the district recently restructured its busing system and reduced its routes from four to two.

"It saves money on about 18,000 gallons of diesel fuel per year," Hammond said.

Sandusky also has lower enrollment. The district closed two schools, Monroe and Barker, in June 2006.

"We've found on an average that we've been losing 50 (students) each year," said Superintendent Bill Pahl.

Pahl said the district's population has been in decline since the early 1970s when enrollment was around 8,000. The district's enrollment for the 2006-07 school year was 3,734.

Bellevue schools is dealing with lower enrollment by not replacing retiring teachers.

"We had 11 retires this year. There are seven of those positions we did not fill," said John Nolan, assistant superintendent.

Bellevue has also eliminated six modular classrooms. Nolan said lower enrollment is most likely because of changing lifestyles.

"Young people are getting married later in their life and are having children later in life and having less children," Nolan said. "The average household in Bellevue has 2.44 occupants per household. That tells me we have an aging population and that people are having less children."