Community needs for an accurate Census count of children for educational needs and resources

Staff Writer
Alice Echo News Journal

In counties and cities across the country where the population is growing quickly, demand for new schools and educational resources is growing, too.

The results from the 2020 Census are important to school districts across the country – whether fast growing or not – because they provide a baseline for the next 10 yearsof school planning.

Last spring, three new schools were under construction, and middle- and high-school students there were sharing the newly opened Riverdale Ridge High School for the first half of the school year.

“In 2010, we were still feeling the effect of the recession both in terms of residential development and, consequently, student enrollment,” said Kerrie Monti, district planning manager. Fast forward five years and the district was issuing bonds to build new schools.

In Virginia’s Loudoun County, one of the nation’s fastest-growing counties, increases in public school enrollment has been staggering.

In 2000, the school district had 45 schools and 29,254 students. By 2010, enrollment had doubled to 60,403 students in 76 schools. By the end of 2020, the district will operate 94 school facilities with a projected enrollment of 83,762 studentsbased on annual estimates – nearly three times the number in 2000, according to the district.

Growing populations lead to growing demand for new schools.

Results from the 2020 Census are important to school districts across the country – whether fast growing or not – because they provide a baseline for the next 10 yearsof school planning.

School districtsuse the numbers to ensure there are enough buildings and classrooms for children as they move through the school system.

Plus, results from the 2020 Census will be used by federal, state and local officials to inform decisions on how to spend billions of dollars in federal funds on education programs like Head Start for pre-K children, free- or reduced-priced school lunches for low-income children and teacher training programs.

That is why it is so important for families and caregivers tocount everyone in their household when they respond to the 2020 Census, especially all childrenwho livewith them, including babies born on or before April 1.

Children under five are among the nation’s most undercounted populations, and school districts can’t plan for children they don’t know will be coming to schools in the future.

“The census only comes around once a decade,” said Census Bureau Director Steven Dillingham. “A kindergartener counted in the 2020 Census … will be in high school when the next census comes around in 2030; that’s 10 years of school supplies, teachers, school lunches and school resources that are dependent on ensuring every child is counted.”

It’s not too late to respond to the 2020 Census online at 2020census.gov, by phone at 844-330-2020, or by returning the paper questionnaire you received in the mail. By early August, census takers are set to begin visiting households that have not yet responded to the census to help ensure everyone is counted, including children. The deadline to respond is Oct. 31.