In the coming years, Hopkins Public Schools will have to tackle many complex issues. Patch asked this year’s School Board candidates about how they’d handle some of the major issues facing the district.
Today’s question is:
- How should Hopkins Public Schools respond to demographic changes like aging in place? (Aging in place is a trend in which parents stay in their homes after their children leave instead of selling homes to families with children. This can decrease enrollment.)
I'd like to think that "aging in place" is a positive sign that our community members want to continue to be a part of this community. It only makes sense, as this area was built by these same people. My own father is a prime example. At age 82, he still resides in the same home that he raised me and my siblings. We should be looking for ways to keep people, like my father, here, while at the same time finding ways for new families to also join our community. Some options might be to continue the efforts by our partner cities to develop more local senior housing. An extension of this would be to connect our residents with opportunities within our schools to share their experience and expertise.
Our District boundaries encompass seven different municipalities. We are fortunate to have good working relationships with these cities and meet with mayors and city managers on a regular basis to discuss trends in housing. We have no direct way to respond to homeowners aging in place. Who can blame them, really? We live in a wonderful community! What we can do to mitigate the effect on enrollment is to continue our efforts in making Hopkins THE district of choice, both for our resident families and for families in other communities. We can also encourage our city partners to seek out housing projects that are inviting and affordable for young families.
As the influx of new students in the school district slows, the school board needs to become even smarter with its resources in order to maintain the high standards of Hopkins education.
More importantly, we need to make a real effort to attract and retain students that live in the Hopkins district. Open enrollment caused a 2% decrease in Hopkins enrollment last year alone, and that percentage has been climbing over the years. As a young district resident that is looking forward to sending my kids to Hopkins schools, I want to be sure that the district will be healthy for the long-term.
Reversing declining enrollment won’t be a quick fix, but I think I can offer a unique perspective as a school board director. The families we’re trying to attract are often young families like mine, and I share their viewpoint. I hope to provide a fresh perspective toward reaching our enrollment goals.
School enrollment is a big issue at Hopkins and for many of our neighboring districts. Housing is an important part of the trends that affect the student from the district, but its also a changing factor depending on the movement of young families and the growth of the job opportunities. I believe the schools should partner with local businesses to help students understand the role of jobs and education better. Student learning in the area of financial literacy is also important to help students see the big picture between our personal finance and our country's financial health.
I am not convinced that “aging in place” is Hopkins’ enrollment problem. If it were the case, then all communities would be experiencing enrollment issues – There is something else going on that is indicative of other issues.
To me, to get the students the best opportunity for education is the top interest, not the enrollment. Hopkins isn’t any different from other districts. To me, decrease in enrollment is not necessarily a bad thing. Wasting Tax $ when enrollment decrease is my concern.