EDUCATION + SCHOOLS

Utah schools may see a decline in enrollment

Oct 31, 2023, 9:00 PM

In the coming decades, Utah schools could see nearly a 50% decline in enrollment. ...

In the coming decades, Utah schools could see nearly a 50% decline in enrollment. 27 bus drivers in the Jordan School District participate in the school bus safety challenge competition at the district's transportation yard on Thursday, June 9, 2022. (Mengshin Lin, Deseret News)

(Mengshin Lin, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — In the coming decades, some parts of Utah could see nearly a 50% decline in school enrollment. 

That’s according to a report by Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute

Student enrollment plays a big role in the distribution of public education funding, the largest state-funded program in Utah. 

However, the institute’s projections indicate a decline in student enrollment will take place beginning in the next few years. From 2023 to 2033, it’s estimated there will be a decline of 0.6% before rising again in 2036. By 2023, the report says about 40,000 fewer school-aged youth will exist. 

Although there will be fewer students, the institute says the projected decline offers a unique opportunity for Utah lawmakers. One opportunity is to increase per-pupil funding. Ed Source says Per-pupil funding is “The amount of money spent on education by a school district or the state, divided by the number of students educated.” 

Lawmakers could also reduce tax levels and allocate money elsewhere, such as at-risk students and extracurriculars. 

“Youth population declines will provide some relief from these cost pressures, creating opportunities to sizably increase K-12 per-pupil spending, alter tax levels, or shift funding to other programs,” the Institute said in its report. 

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Utah schools may see a decline in enrollment