Saturday, March 28, 2015


Idaho's 2014 public school kindergarten class is almost 1000 smaller than its predecessor. Could it be the beginning of a trend?

In our last post, we pointed out that Boise's 2014 kindergarten class was 150 smaller than the 2013 class, owing to lower birth rates during the recession. Now it turns out that the statewide count is down, which could have ramifications for Idaho's enrollment for the next few years.

Kindergarten enrollment in most of Idaho's large districts dropped in 2014-15. Here are Idaho's kindergarten enrollment numbers for the past several years:

Note that the drop from 2013-14 to 2014-15 in kindergarten enrollment coincides with the decline in Live Birth Rates between 2008 and 2009:

Overall, Idaho's public school enrollment continued its pattern of growth in 2014-15:

However, since each of the Live Birth Rate figures from 2009-2012 is lower than that of 2008, we may see smaller kindergarten classes in the state for several years, which could slow the rate of PreK-12 enrollment growth in the state.

Since 2009-10, Idaho's overall public school enrollment has grown by about 4%, or about 13,000 students. If the next several kindergarten classes are similar in size to that of 2014-15, Idaho's overall enrollment growth could slow to only 1-2% during the next 5 years.

Of course, other factors, such as ingress and egress of families, impact enrollment in the state. It will be interesting to see what happens with the student population, given the impact of the Great Recession on Live Birth Rates in Idaho.


As we approach the award ceremony for the 2015 Century Scholars on April 14, it's time to take a look back at the 2014 Scholars - a group of Boise School District students who are now enrolled far and wide across the United States (and even abroad) in college. 

The Century Scholars Awards are sponsored by the Rotary Clubs of Boise, organizations committed to service and supportive of education. The Scholars awards were originated in Boise by then Superintendent Stan Olson as a means for recognizing the best and brightest in Boise's schools. The awards recognize students with the highest GPA in Boise's five high schools, along with the two private high schools in the city.

Eighty-eight of the 100 (5% of the senior class) 2014 Scholars were from the Boise District. Here are some statistics about those students:

Average Scholar Weighted GPA:  4.22
Average SAT score: 1981 (of 2400)
Number of Scholars who scored 2000 or above on the SAT: 47
Number of perfect (800) Scores in SAT Reading: 4
Number of perfect scores in SAT Math: 10

The 2014 Scholars are currently attending colleges and universities in 26 states. Fifteen (18%) are going to school in Idaho - 7 to Boise State, 4  to the University of Idaho, 3 to the College of Idaho, and 1 to Idaho State University.

Twelve (15%) are at college in these locations in California:  Stanford, Claremont-McKenna, Occidental, Pepperdine, Cal-Berkeley, Cal-Davis, Cal-Santa Barbara, UCLA, and USC (2), California Polytechnic.

Ten (12%) are in Utah: 5 at BYU, 2 at the University of Utah, 2 at Utah State University, and 1 at Westminster College in Salt Lake City.

Some are attending elite private universities around the country: Colby College (ME), Colorado College, Emory University (GA) (2), Grinnell College (IA), Wake Forest University (NC), and Santa Clara University (CA).

Others are at Ivy League and other prestigious universities and colleges: Harvard, Cornell, Penn, Princeton, Georgetown, and the University of Chicago,

State colleges, especially those with strong engineering programs, are also favorites of the 2014 Century Scholars: Arizona State, Montana State (3), Portland State, Texas A & M (2), Tulane, Colorado (2), Iowa, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Pittsburgh, and Western Washington.

And finally, two of the 2014 Scholars are enrolled at the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York, one is on a mission for his church, and one is enrolled at a university in South Korea.

Quite an auspicious group of Boise Schools grads. It's true - our students can (and do) go everywhere!

Sunday, March 1, 2015


The Pew Research Center has published several articles about what happens to birth rates in times of economic downturn. As you might expect, they decline, as families decide to put off child bearing until economic times improve:

From the article by Gretchen Livingston and D'Vera Corn: "The U.S. birth rate, which had been relatively stable or rising, began falling after 2007, when the Great Recession began and the decline persisted even after the official end of the recession in 2009."

Though the authors further indicate that birth rates appear to be stabilizing, we looked at Ada County birth rates (we've always used them in our calculations of kindergarten size) during the recession to see the potential effect on District kindergarten enrollment. Here are the birth rates for the past nine years:

The Boise District typically receives about a third of the Ada County Live Births five years later. So, for example, in 2012,  the kindergarten class was 1829, 32% of the live births in 2007. In 2013, there were 1918 kindergartners, 34% of the live births in 2008.

So, knowing that we would likely receive around a third of the live births again in 2014, we were able to anticipate a smaller kindergarten class. That class came in at 1763, 34% of the live births in 2009.

Here are the Boise District kindergarten class numbers since 1998, with projections based on live birth rates for the next few years included:

We'll see if the projections play out as well as they have in the past few years. If they do, we can expect flat enrollment numbers rather than the substantial growth which had occurred in district enrollment from 2008 to 2013. District enrollment grew by almost 1100 students during those years, but declined slightly in 2014.