Declining school enrollment raises concerns in Holt

By Courtney Kendler
Holt Journal staff reporter

It’s 7 p.m. on an early October evening and tensions are high as parents, teachers and students fill the school board meeting room at Holt High School’s North Campus. After several minutes of discussion, Executive Director of Curriculum and Staff Development Dr. Ruth Riddle addressed the growing crowd. “Based on our internal data, we projected being down about 50 students and we’re right on target with our budget projections,” she said. According to information gathered from, which publishes student count rates, there were 5,803 students in Holt Public Schools during the 2013-14 school year. The district saw a loss of 87 students in the next year, dropping to 5,716.

Average teacher pay continues to shrink, study shows

Capital News Service
LANSING — The average salary of public school teachers in the state dropped by $360 in 2013-14 from the previous school year, which already was $84 less than in 2011-12, according to the Michigan Department of Education. Several factors, including declining school enrollment, account for the downward trend in average salaries, according to education experts. School districts having the most financial trouble are also those with the greatest decline in enrollment, said Jennifer Smith, the Michigan Association of School Boards director of government relations. “I bet if you lay them side-by-side, you’re going to find the ones that are having the most trouble are the ones that have the highest loss of students,” Smith said of funding problems. “Because we fund our schools per-pupil, that decline in enrollment is a huge problem for some districts.”
Jennifer Dirmeyer, an assistant professor of economics at Ferris State University, said the decrease in average salaries is also strongly driven by the age and experience of teachers. Dirmeyer said, “It doesn’t appear as though new teachers are making any less than new teachers have made in the past — it’s just that there are more new teachers now, as a percentage of total teachers, than there have been in the past.”
Dirmeyer said that while downward trends may continue, once recently hired teachers’ salaries increase annually with experience, average salaries will also rise.

Community colleges boost out-of-state enrollments, revenue

Capital News Service
LANSING – Community colleges in Michigan are enrolling more out-of-state students and international students, a trend that may add dollars to their budgets. Among 28 community colleges, 21 have an out-of-state and international tuition rate twice as high as in-district tuition, according to the Michigan Community College Association. For example, tuition at Lansing Community College this fall is $81 per credit hour for in-district students, $162 for out-of-district students and $243 for out-of-state and international students. Tuition at Northwestern Michigan Community College is similar: $84.60 per credit hour for in-district students, $165.90 for out-of-district students and $212.45 for out-of-state and international students. Mike Hansen, president of the association, said many colleges are targeting students who pay higher tuition rates, at least in part to solve their serious budget problems.
He said it’s hard to keep up with rising costs.

Community colleges innovate to stay competitive

Capital News Service
LANSING – Community colleges are finding new ways to compete with for-profit colleges to enroll and retain more part-time and working students. Those efforts, including one at Kellogg Community College in Battle Creek, come at a time when community college enrollments are dipping while for-profit enrollments are rising. Over the past year, enrollment at community colleges dropped for the first time in several years, from a high of 260,179 in 2010 to 250,399 now, according to the Michigan Community College Association. However, enrollment in the state’s degree-granting, for-profits rose from 21,185 in 2004 to 30,193 in 2010, according to the U.S. Department of Education. Donald Heller, dean of the Michigan State University College of Education and an expert on higher education policy, said the growth of for-profits like the University of Phoenix and Everest Institute is largely due to their flexibility.

Community colleges adapt to enrollment decline

Capital News Service
LANSING – Enrollments at community colleges nationwide and in Michigan are leveling out following years of significant growth, experts say. Enrollments across the country rose by 21.8 percent from 2007 to 2010, but dropped by 1 percent from 2010 to 2011, according to the American Association of Community Colleges in Washington. Michigan enrollment dropped by 3.75 percent from fall 2010 to fall 2011, according to the Michigan Community College Network. The communications director for Oakland Community College said, “Enrollments at community colleges are what we call counter-cyclical. When an economy goes bad, our enrollments shoot up, and when the economy gets better they tend to level off.”
George Cartsonis said Oakland hit record enrollment last fall at 29,962, a 26 percent increase from 2002.

Minority enrollment hurt at public law schools

Capital News Service
LANSING– Michigan public law schools are admitting fewer minority students than most of the state’s private law schools, a new study shows. The reason, experts say, is a 2006 constitutional provision, Proposal 2, which prohibits public colleges and universities from considering the race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin of applicants. The University of Michigan and Wayne State University have public law schools with 22 and 16 percent minority enrollment respectively. The state’s private ones are Michigan State University, Thomas M. Cooley and the University of Detroit Mercy. The minority enrollment rate for these institutions ranges from 19 to 27 percent.