Gwinnett schools: Fewer new students next year as economy takes toll on growth statewide

Gwinnett schools will see fewer new students next year. (AJC file)

Gwinnett schools will see fewer new students next year. (AJC file)

The AJC has a good story this morning on the statewide slowdown in student enrollment, which is most visible in Gwinnett, a district accustomed to welcoming thousands of new students each year. In 2006-2007 alone, Gwinnett added 7,400 students.

The story reports that for the first time in at least 30 years, Gwinnett expects to begin next year with fewer than 1,000 new students. The district anticipates 692 new kids in August when the 2012-2013 school year commences.

According to the AJC:

J. Alvin Wilbanks, Gwinnett County’s CEO and superintendent, attributes the enrollment slowdown to the economic downturn. It’s the same in other districts — just more glaring in Gwinnett, the nation’s 12th-largest school district and a record-setter for years in growth. Wilbanks and school system planners see a quick, albeit small rebound. In the meantime, said school system spokeswoman Sloan Roach, “it’s nice to take a breath and catch up.”

The district added eight new schools in 2010 and one in 2011, moves that have allowed some students to shift from trailers to more traditional classrooms, Roach said.  In addition, the school system for the first time will be investing nearly half of the proceeds from its next five-year sales tax in technology. In the past, because of enrollment increases, that money has mostly been used to build new schools and expand others, Roach said.

The district still has areas where school overcrowding is an issue. One middle school is over capacity by hundreds of students, but will see some relief when a new school built with sales tax revenue opens in the Peachtree Ridge cluster in 2014. By 2015, a new high school will open, eliminating the need for portable classrooms at Berkmar and Central Gwinnett high schools, district spokesman Jorge Quintana said.

Enrollment in neighboring Fulton County is still going up, though not at the pace it once did, and Cobb County’s enrollment basically has been flat for years.

Between October 2010 and October 2011, all 180 of the state’s public schools collectively added about 8,000 new students. That’s fewer newer students than the Gwinnett school system took in during the 2005-2006 school year after the influx of Hurricane Katrina victims.

Jim Skinner, a planner with the Atlanta Regional Commission, said school districts are seeing a “blow-back effect or residual effect from the economic slowdown.”

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

51 comments Add your comment

carlosgvv

April 9th, 2012
8:45 am

How much of this school overcrowding is caused by illegal aliens or their children?

Public HS Teacher

April 9th, 2012
8:49 am

carlosgvv – Geez. Why must you take a tangent to the topic right off of the bat?

Public HS Teacher

April 9th, 2012
8:57 am

I’m not sure that the slow down in student population really signifies anything ‘good.’ Doesn’t it also mean that growth in tax collection will be slower?

I think it will be a new challenge for Gwinnett and other system to shift from managing growth to managing a stable population. They cannot expect to spend, spend, spend, and must make better decisions.

A Conservative Voice

April 9th, 2012
9:00 am

Could it be that……
1) Illegal immigration enforcement is actually working here in Georgia and has had an effect on our
school populations
2) Private Schools and Private Christian Academies are looking better and better for those able to
afford the cost
3) Parents are beginning to realize that, in some areas, public schools are the pits and parents
actually care for the welfare of their children
4) This is the beginning of the end for public schools as we have known in the past

Naw, it’s probably just the result of an error made by someone who still counts on their fingers (the result of the “poor” education received in our “Great Public Schools”) and the enrollment will actually be higher than expected.

Reality Check

April 9th, 2012
9:02 am

Everyone knows that the numbers are results of Gwinnett’s aggressive deportation police policy.

carlosgvv

April 9th, 2012
9:19 am

Public HS Teacher – 8:49

Someday you may gain enough maturity to realize that ignoring something you don’t like will NOT make it go away.

Once Again

April 9th, 2012
9:29 am

It would be even nicer to think that more parents are homeschooling their kids rather than turning them over to the government to destroy their minds at their so-called educational institutions (really day-prisons). Sadly I doubt that is the case.

Csoby

April 9th, 2012
9:35 am

Facts are showing the population getting older and less young to take their place. the Baby boomers did not repeat their parents and cut down on the number of kids. Moving to Generation X, they are, per the bean counters, are having less kids and later in life…As School systems adjusted to the Baby boomers, they will need to adjust to Generation X. A fact of life

Don H

April 9th, 2012
9:35 am

Enforcing immigration laws not only helps unemployed Georgians impacted by the Obama Recession—it also gives relief to taxpayers called upon to foot the bill for schooling the children of illegals. Social services such as our public health clinics will also see demand lessen.

When jobs available to illegals dry up—illegals are forced either to return to their home country or to steal jobs in other states. Wider use of the federal E-Verify system here in Georgia, in other words, is having exactly the beneficial effects forecast.

intowner

April 9th, 2012
9:38 am

No way could it be that the economy in Gwinnett has tanked; all those empty retail store fronts sitting for months on end couldn’t have anything to do with folks fleeing looking for work someplace else. Has the commercial vacancy rate in the burbs started to rebound yet? Last i heard it hadn’t even plateaued yet. Have the jobs coming into the county started to offset those that left?

dc

April 9th, 2012
10:01 am

Never have understood that idea that growth is somehow, by itself, inherently good. It brings more money and oppty, but also lots of challenges from traffic/congestion to crime. I’d be happy to see communities focus more on improving whats already there, instead of just building and bringing in new.

Xer

April 9th, 2012
10:06 am

@Csoby, Generation Xers are having more kids than Boomers, per family. There are fewer of us, but our families are larger, often 3 or more kids as this article explains: http://www.newyorklife.com/nyl/v/index.jsp?contentId=13769&vgnextoid=b4dd47bb939d2210a2b3019d221024301cacRCRD . I have friends with 5, 6, and even 8 children.

jarvis

April 9th, 2012
10:32 am

I’d like to see the breakdown of the numbers. My guess is that there is still significant growth in the Northern part of the county.

As for the East…speaking as a native Stone Mountainian / Lilburnite….the area has little to offer anymore. Brookwood cluster is all that remains of good schools in the inner half of the county.

jarvis

April 9th, 2012
10:37 am

Xer….you realize that the article you reference states the over 3 children rate between 1995 and 2000?

Those wouldn’t most-likely include Generation X births.

Kenya

April 9th, 2012
10:43 am

Have to agree with the others that fewer economic opportunities coupled with tougher enforcement of immigration laws is responsible for the Gwinnett school population levelling off. However another factor is simply families moving to greener pastures. The in-migration in places like south Forsyth County is just amazing.

Hillbilly D

April 9th, 2012
11:04 am

Never have understood that idea that growth is somehow, by itself, inherently good.

Me either. They say growth brings jobs but it also brings more people. The unemployment rate is higher than is was several million people ago, so what have you gained?

William Casey

April 9th, 2012
11:07 am

I don’t wish to get into a Social Darwinist hassle here but feel the need to make an anecdotal observation. I have ten female friends, six boomers and four X’ers. All are highly educated and have stable jobs/careers. Among them, they have produced five children. In my experience, the women best qualified to have and raise “solid citizen” children have chosen not to. It seems that population growth must be coming from the less educated, less financially stable segment of society.

.

April 9th, 2012
11:08 am

gwinnett has tried so hard to be “diversified” that people that can afford it are heading to other counties. Not sure if its true, but a cop told me that Gwinnett now has the highest total number(so factor in that it has a high population) of gang related crimes of any county in Georgia.

Once Again

April 9th, 2012
11:14 am

William Casey – That’s always the group that does reproduce in the higher numbers. Make education “free”, give huge tax incentives, give other financial rewards, and the problem only gets worse and worse. You get exactly what you incentivize. Unfortunately the parasites now vastly outnumber the hosts and eventually this warfare/welfare society we live in will collapse under its own weight. That’s when the fun really begins.

vince

April 9th, 2012
11:33 am

What a misleading headline!! “Gwinnett schools have lowest in enrollment in thirty years.” That isn’t true at all. The headline should have read, “Gwinnett schools have fewest number of new students in thirty years.”

Who edits the website??

L Stewart

April 9th, 2012
11:41 am

Growth slowed? Nope the kids are still here. At least seven families in my small subdivision are homeschooling. That’s about 21 kids in this neighborhood alone. They were withdrawn because the local school of excellence is terrible.

Tonya C.

April 9th, 2012
11:49 am

William Casey:

I continually say this to my husband and he scoffs. Especially for the black and white families I know, this is VERY true. A max of 2 kids if any are had at all. We have three and are considered a “big” family.

Jarvis:

Very true. Parkview cluster was neck-in-neck with Brookwood for years, but is now starting to decline as well. North Gwinnett is still great though (but is bordered by Forsyth as is reflected in the student population).

L Stewart:

Very true. I actually know several families who are now homeschooling through the GA Cyber Academy. I’m considering options for my middle child as well due to the lack of quality in her current ES.

Another Xer

April 9th, 2012
11:54 am

@jarvis & @Xer – interesting. Many of my friends have 3 kids – I’m one of 4, to Boomer parents (both born 1946), and I chose to stop at 2, although my sister has 5.

jarvis, since Xers are generally considered to have been born between 1962 and 1982, births from ‘95 to 2000 are most likely Xer’s kids. Off course, there are no firm dates marking one generation into another. I think older Xer’s like me (1965), exhibit traits more like Boomers, and younger ones like a good friend of mine (1982) lean more Millennial.

I think the economy has done more to inhibit growth than anything else, including immigration crackdowns. I also think that you can only build so much before there is nowhere left to build, and then folks look elsewhere.

JH

April 9th, 2012
12:07 pm

GCPS has attracted quantity over quality for the past decade. Katrina refugees, Illegals, APS and Dekalb border crossers invaded Gwinnett en masses. When the economy and especially the RE market start to rebound, just watch as the the money steadily leaves Gwinnett. They built up a World class school system just to watch it stumble and tumble into ruins. Watch the test scores go down.

B. Killebrew

April 9th, 2012
12:19 pm

jarvis and Tonya C.,

How is Parkview starting to decline???

EnoughAlready

April 9th, 2012
12:20 pm

This is an excellent opportunity for Gwinnett to focus completely on educating our children and not whether or not there is enough classroom space. It’s not a good or bad thing, just an OPPORTUNITY to improve an excellent school system. I hope Wilbanks does not let the opportunity pass without making significant improvements.

FedUp

April 9th, 2012
12:22 pm

The illegal aliens are leaving. That is why enrollment is down.

JH

April 9th, 2012
12:32 pm

“Brookwood cluster is all that remains of good schools in the inner half of the county.”

If they are not careful, then Brookwood is going to start going downhill. They are not protecting any schools in the Southern half of Gwinnett, they will let anyone in. Again, it is all about the numbers.

“The illegal aliens are leaving.”

No, they are not. I can tell you for a fact that I can see that they are not. The only Illegals that are leaving are those that have been arrested and deported.

Dave

April 9th, 2012
12:40 pm

@B.Killebrew- Last year Parkview was second in both SAT and ACT scores (third if you count GSMST.) Parkview also scored in the top 2 or 3 in EOCTs but I didn’t take the time to parse them all.The school’s not gone downhill. People just say that because the minority population has increased.

Vince

April 9th, 2012
1:06 pm

Myth: Gwinnett schools are losing enrollment.
Fact: Gwinnett has more students now than they have ever had and will be even bigger next year. This article was written to make you think they were shrinking. They simply will have fewer new students than they have had in the past.

Myth: This article is just about Gwinnett County.
Fact: This article was supposed to show that growth is slowing in the metro area and how that affects the schools.

Myth: Schools are losing enrollment because people are seeking alternatives to public schools.
Fact: Schools are losing enrollment because of Georgia’s immigration laws and the non-existent construction industry.

That’s all. Avoid the media whipped hysteria and just THINK. It’s really not too hard.

Tonya C.

April 9th, 2012
1:10 pm

Parkview has an influx of apartment dwellers that seems to be effecting the quality of student at the high school level. I’ve actually heard it from several people in the cluster and some that have moved out.

Tonya C.

April 9th, 2012
1:13 pm

I don’t say that just because the minority population has increased, I say it because of the quality of student they are starting to receive. Included in that are students assigned to Meadowcreek that find their way into Parkview. And FYI, I’m black and this information was actually provided by other black folk.

Homeschooler

April 9th, 2012
1:17 pm

I live in Cobb. This is all sounding very familiar.

L Stewart

April 9th, 2012
1:22 pm

No way the defection of student to alternative schools and homeschooling is a myth. Now that children can enroll and attend public school from home for free, the virtual schools are overwhelmed and have waiting lists. I didn’t mention that we have three families “doing” virtual school in our small neighborhood- a two street subdivision. Heck, even the president of the neighborhood PTA withdrew her children to homeschool! If that is the case in our small neighborhood, after you add in the illegal aliens that moved elsewhere, it has to mean big number losses for Gwinnett.County Public schools!

Tonya C.

April 9th, 2012
1:28 pm

The coming down the pike effect is what I am worried about. The now isn’t the issue. I have young ones so forecasting is key, and I’m not just looking at current test scores to do it. At this point we are getting ready to buy and my worry is that the affordability due to housing market depreciation is going to rear its ugly head.

We are getting ready to buy a home, and we are listening to the good AND the bad. My husband is an educator and we tend to get the ‘insiders view’ not the GCPS published headlines.

Tonya C.

April 9th, 2012
1:35 pm

I concur with L Stewart about the schooling options having an effect, even in the so-called ‘good’ neighborhoods. I have several friends who are currently doing it and some who are considering the option. With the G.O.A.L scholarship also available, anyone who has some disposable income is taking advantage and sending their kids to private school in the area.

Janet

April 9th, 2012
2:10 pm

I am one of those who left Gwinnett for the reasons many have mentioned here. We just moved to South Forsyth County because in my view, Gwinnett takes too much in federal dollars (ie too much federal control) in an attempt to bring up minority (the destitute, uneducated, too many kids kind of minority) test scores… thus leaving middle class white kids to fall thru the cracks. I’m counting on more of a fair shake for my kids in South Forsyth. Call it white flight if you want. I don’t think of it that way. I think of it as looking for the best opportunites for MY children given the circumstances.

I’m not the only one. I recently found out, that most in my fairly new Forsyth subdivison are from Fulton and Gwinnett looking for the same opportunities. My son’s former preschool in Duluth is close to going under because the middle and upper income brackets that used to drive for miles to attend are getting out of dodge.

No science… just a perspective from someone who couldn’t get out of Gwinnett fast enough.

JH

April 9th, 2012
3:07 pm

@ B. Killebrew

“But, Parkview Area/Zone has very few apartments. Where are the apartment dwellers residing?”

I will answer your question, from a Brookwood perspective (which has no apts). Parkview is most likely getting an influx of kids that don’t even live in that attendance zone, probably from Stn Mtn area of Dekalb. Brookwood is seeing populations from Shiloh, S Gwinnett, and the Lithonia area of Dekalb. Again, many are renters and many are just border jumpers that don’t live in the cluster. I can’t stress this enough: GCPS is about NUMBERS and Federal $$$. The money is fleeing Gwinnett.

Janet is right ….. middle class flight!

vince

April 9th, 2012
3:22 pm

What interesting comments from Janet. Perhaps I am in the minority in thinking it has been beneficial for my children to go to school with affluent Koreans, immigrants from Mexico and eastern Europe, and children from all over the world. I think they have learned a great deal from the experience…certainly more than they would have learned in a home school situation or in a school where they look like everyone else.

So, we have stayed in our neighborhood in northeastern Gwinnett. We have taken advantage of nationally the recognized libraries and schools and have enjoyed what surely must be the best park system in the country. My children who have graduated have gone off to college and unanimously report that “it is easier than high school” since they were so very well prepared.

So we all do what we think is best for our kids. Some of us just see diversity as a positive.

@ vince

April 9th, 2012
3:46 pm

affluent?

None of the groups that you mention are anywhere near being affluent. LMAO & SMH!

Once Again

April 9th, 2012
4:06 pm

Whether you have finally figured out how horrible government schools are or haven’t, check out Kahn Academy. His collection of 100% free lessons is outstanding. Virtual school run by the government is still going to leave your children lacking. Keeping them out of the prisons is a great idea, but not if they still don’t get a worthwhile education. Also look up the Trivium. Any great education is based on that, not the stuff that currently passes for education.

Furious Styles

April 9th, 2012
4:16 pm

Actually what is really happening is:
1. People have finally gotten fed up with the traffic up there and have moved away.
2. Younger smarter professionals with school aged children have realized Georgia’s backwardness and
have totally left the state.

Homeschooler

April 9th, 2012
4:24 pm

@ Vince..agreeed that in certain parts of Gwinnett you will find a lot of diversity. However, in South Cobb there is little international diversity in the schools. Lower socioeconomic classes of blacks, whites and hispanics is what you will find. ANY middle to upper middle class kids (regardless of race) are the minorities in the schools here. I wonder if you would feel the same about the diversity surrounding your children if it was largely a negative influence not a positive one.

AMHS Dad

April 9th, 2012
5:20 pm

Gwinnettians brace yourselves your school system will mirror Dekalb in about 15 years. Use Shiloh High as your case study. As a graduate of Towers High(DCSS) class of ‘86 I can remember Redan High only having 3 black football players, and 1 black cheerleader. Now you would be lucky to find 1 blonde blue in the whole building. Just saying’

BbHhSs

April 9th, 2012
7:26 pm

JH –12:32 stated:
“If they are not careful, then Brookwood is going to start going downhill. They are not protecting any schools in the Southern half of Gwinnett, they will let anyone in. Again, it is all about the numbers.”

Who are they? I don’t know who would want these outsiders in for money? Who’s benefiting from the money?

I’m sure Brookwood (or insert any ‘good’ school) would rather not have this influx of neighbor students. I bet it puts stress on BHS’ resources, teachers, administrators, students and parents/community members. With faux leases, people lying, etc. who has the manpower to follow-up and stop/slow it? Where are the ethical parents here? Overall, to be stereotypical these non-Brookwood folks probably bring discipline issues and a lack of education rigor…..one athlete or three is not worth it. At least, I would not think so.

Just my two cents.

Janet

April 9th, 2012
7:55 pm

@ Vince — I’m not opposed to diversity. But there are different classes of diversity. The diversity that engulfed my once middle class area turned my local good performing elementary school into a Title 1 disaster where Ennglish is pretty much the second language spoken, poor African American apartment dwellers are the norm, and parent participation was/is pretty much non-existent except for a final few middle class moms from my subdivision. I actually refused to send my kid there and did a permissive transfer to a Suwanee/North Gwinnett school.

You’re actually lucky Vince because your kids already graduated from a Gwinnett school…. so I can see where your perspective is different from mine. Gwinnett used to be great…but is changing and not for the better. I remember when we moved to Duluth 12 years ago. The “upscale” family friendly apartments where we first moved, I wouldn’t even go to that side of town now… and most certainly not after dark. Back then, Norcross was the “seedy” area where you had to be careful. Well, guess what… they’re moving north! What happened to the Gwinnett place mall area is a damn shame. I agree with AMHS Dad… Gwinnett (all of Gwinnett) will mirror Dekalb in the not so distant future. Sad.

Xer

April 9th, 2012
9:18 pm

@William Casey, you obviously have not attended Christ the King in Buckhead; large families, well-educated, wealthy. Most of the mothers I know are college-educated, however, many, like me, have decided to actually raise our progeny instead of turning them over to an institutional daycare environment. @Jarvis, I was born in the late sixties, and had 3 of my children between the years you stated. Plus, the article I posted was specifically about Generation X.

vince

April 9th, 2012
10:03 pm

@ janet…. I didn’t say all of my children have graduated yet….and I am quite happy where I am.

@ @ vince….have you never been to the Sugarloaf area around Peachtree Ridge? If you do not think of the Koreans in that area as affluent then I guess you have a different perspective of that than I do.

To Public HS Teacher

April 10th, 2012
9:06 am

Your concern is apparent. You are worried that if there are less children, you might lose your job because they won’t need as many teachers. That’s a valid concern but bashing CarlogGV won’t change the facts.
The fact is that huge population of new kids came from illegal immigrants. I for one am delighted if thepopulation decrease was due to the illegals leaving. We cannot afford our own American citizens. We don’t need to support criminals — Illegal immigration is a CRIME.

Janet

April 10th, 2012
11:00 am

@ Vince — I smell hipocracy in the air….

You live in the Peachtree Ridge district in which, just last year, the school board did one of the most underhanded redistricting moves in a long time. The “affluent” did not like the… should I say “quality” of diversity that was moving into Peachtree Ridge so there was a redistricting that just “randomly” and “coincidentally” happened to move much of P’tree Ridge’s low income/apartment dwellers/undesirables into the Duluth district. And the best part is that it was pushed thru in about 6 weeks with very little time for the folks in Duluth to organize and offer alternative solutions. Serioulsy, from the announcement to the final passage was only 6 weeks. That redistricting effort was nothing more than Class Warfare. … and Peachtree Ridge won. Then you sit on top of your ivory tower and judge others for not appreciating “diversity”. Glass Houses my friend…. Glass Houses….