Demographer: Expect big enrollment drops
Published May 18, 2007
GALVESTON — The Galveston Independent School District should expect to lose more than 1,400 students by 2016, a demographer predicted Wednesday.
The district, already facing problems due to declining enrollment, hired Pasa Demographics to conduct a study on the future of its student population.
The results presented at a board meeting Wednesday painted a grim picture.
The district lost 8 percent of its student population — or 780 students — in five years, Pat Guseman said. Last year, an additional 610 students — or almost 7 percent of the more than 8,700 students — left the district, she said.
Enrollment is declining due to declining birth rates in Galveston, increasing private school enrollment, lack of local jobs and rising housing costs, Guseman said.
Guseman predicted the district would lose 1,468 students in the next nine years.
The predictions came with a range. On the low end, that loss could be 105 students by 2015. On the high end, that number could reach 3,553 — or more than 40 percent of the district’s current enrollment.
More than 12,000 new homes are planned in the Galveston district during the next few years, Guseman said.
However, many of those homes are going up on the West End and will be weekend or vacation homes or homes for elderly couples without school-age children, she said.
Guseman said the phenomenon is almost the “Hamptonization” of Galveston, except older couples, instead of young professionals, are buying up homes in the area.
The district’s demographics are changing as well, according to Pasa Demographics report.
The African-American population is rapidly declining, while the Hispanic population is increasing, Guseman said. The numbers of economically disadvantaged children are also decreasing, she said.
Declining enrollment and soaring property values in Galveston mean the school district will have to send millions of local dollars to the state under the terms of Chapter 41 in the Texas Education Code.
A school district is considered wealthy and subject to Chapter 41 status when its property value divided by the number of students in the district exceeds $319,500. Tax revenue more than that amount cannot be kept by the district.
The further enrollment declines and the higher property values rise, the more money the district will have to fork over to the state.
Despite what seemed like a grim prediction, Guseman was upbeat about Galveston’s future. She said changing enrollment and demographics will help, not hurt.
“It’s going to be a very different environment here in five years,” Guseman said.