ERIC Number: EJ982667
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2012-Aug-29
Reference Count: N/A
Districts Adjust to Growth in Older Population
Sparks, Sarah D.
Education Week, v32 n2 p1, 14-15 Aug 2012
The 1,000-student Allegheny Valley district in Pennsylvania boasts generations of alumni and a community so involved with the schools that high school graduation becomes an open celebration in downtown Springdale Borough. Yet the district hasn't asked for a tax increase in three years, and it is pushing out a message to older residents about energy conservation, equipment reuse, and other cost savings. Allegheny Valley is located in one of more than 900 counties where residents 65 and older now edge out school-age children. Out of more than 3,000 counties and county equivalents nationwide, seniors outnumber schoolchildren by more than 2-to-1 in 33 counties, recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau show. Educators in such counties are grappling with ways to keep the older community engaged in and supportive of their schools, from bringing older residents into classes to reframing education issues to address safety and economic concerns. The combination of rising life expectancy and falling overall fertility in the United States means that, by the middle of this century, the nation will join Europe, Japan, and other areas across the globe where people 65 and older outnumber those 17 and under, according to the Census Bureau. The general demographic trend may mean it's harder to have publicly financed education in an aging America. Older Americans expand the overall tax base of a district and can lead to higher school budgets, but as voters they favor lower taxes and spending on schools. Voters 65 and older often give priority to health-care and police programs over education, but do tend to be interested in the way school quality affects property prices. Officials in the Allegheny Valley district, besides being judicious in their budget requests, try to guard against waning voter support by working to include older residents--many of whom attended the schools or enrolled their own children decades before--in academic presentations, a seniors' brunch on campus, and Veterans Day festivities.
Descriptors: Educational Finance, Community Needs, Tax Effort, Population Distribution, Population Trends, Social Change, School District Wealth, Generational Differences, Older Adults, Aging (Individuals)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Pennsylvania; United States