State: Rural schools lose hundreds

Posted: Thursday, December 04, 2008

State researchers hoping to determine how many people have left rural Alaska for bigger communities report that rural schools lost 1,802 students in the last five years.

Total school enrollment across the state during that time, between July 2003 and June 2008, fell by 2,255 students, according to the state's Division of Community Advocacy.

Lower school counts do not necessarily mean that people are leaving any one area for another, said Brigitta Windisch-Cole, a research analyst. For example, part of the reason enrollment is falling could be due to the fact that couples are having fewer babies. The Alaska birth rate has fallen in recent years, dropping from 24.4 for every 1,000 residents in the 1980s to 15.4 in 2005-2006.

The information is part of an ongoing review by the division that began in October. It also found that correspondence schools lost 721 students, urban schools lost 204 students and correctional facility schools lost 66 students.

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