Unless you’ve got a time machine, planning for the future is a tricky business.
Should you be investing in staff or programs? Do you need more schools or fewer?
When choosing how to spend limited dollars, how handy would it be to be able to see what lies head?
Today we bring you just such an opportunity.
The National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES) has just released a fascinating new report, Projections of Education Statistics to 2022, that gives us a glimpse into our future as school leaders.
Make sure to read it carefully, though. You don’t want to start planning for someone else’s future.
1. Location, Location, Location
Our friends in North Carolina and Vermont will continue to face familiar pressures. For Vermont, that’s a decreasing enrollment trend that has been taxing the school system for the last 20 years.
In North Carolina, where schools are struggling to staff up, you’re going to see an ongoing need to develop both the physical and human infrastructure to support growing enrollment over the next 7 years.
Of course, growth will vary across the state, so keep an eye on the birth trends in your region for more localized insights.
2. Which Classrooms?
As a nation, it looks like public elementary schools are the winner! Private school enrollment is expected to drop, while k-8 classrooms will see the bulk of a 5% national bump.
Years of hard work have resulted in strong national high school graduation rates. The NCES expects those rates will plateau (though we hope the positive trend continues).
3. The Bottom Line
Here’s the bad news: the NCES is projecting an overall cost increase of 20%, with per-pupil costs expected to rise by 14%. A factor in this will be the expected drop in student-teacher ratios.
Planning Your Destiny
Now here’s the great news: by looking ahead now, we have the opportunity to craft the future we want, the ones our kids deserve.
1. Set Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals
Taking a truly long view gives you a chance to accomplish AMAZING things that are simply impractical when we thing on a year-to-year basis. With enough advance planning, a school system can take achievable, incremental steps toward really innovative ends. A long term plan provides you with an opportunity to make radical (data-informed) choices that can improve school systems in ways that really benefit communities and students.
2. From Reactive to Proactive
As Lewis Carroll famously said, “when you don’t know where you’re going, any road will lead you there.” If you find yourself living in stimulus-response mode, you’re not leading your school to a better future. Long term data allows you to develop, and implement, the action plan that will lead your team to your achieve huge, exciting goals. You know, all those reasons you got into education to begin with. Not sure where to start? We can help you with that.
3. Double Down on Success
This is your opportunity to focus on the programs and systems that are providing the greatest immediate service (and jettison the ones that aren’t). Begin the hardest conversations now: consolidation or expansion, programs or staff? Now is the time to debate the personnel and resource needs of the future, to set your system up to achieve those exciting goals you’ve set.
4. Redefine School Leader
By taking a forward perspective, administrators can convene stakeholder teams now to establish priorities in programming, structure, budgeting, personnel and a host of other areas. These decisions will be difficult, so getting as many voices involved as possible will be a key to success.
Check out the report and enjoy taking your own peek into the future.