THE SCHOOL COST MYTH
Myth: Affordable housing will bring large families and more children to the community, thereby increasing the burden on schools.
Increased housing levels do not equate to an increase in school costs, according to a study by the Donohue Institute at the University of Massachusetts, which studied seven Massachusetts communities with mixed-income housing between 1994 and 2004. The study found that teaching staff levels and overall expenditures increased independently of changes in enrollment.
In Connecticut, school enrollments are expected to drop by 17% by 2020. So even if new housing brings additional school children, it is likely that classroom vacancies will be able to absorb them without additional costs. The Donohue Institute study found that some school districts studied had costs rise significantly even while their enrollment declined. There are clear fiscal pressures on municipalities due to educational costs, but there is no evidence that student enrollment growth is the cause of the budgetary problems.
Data from the U.S. Census Bureau further debunks this myth. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, rental apartments have fewer children per unit on average than owner-occupied, single-family housing; rental apartments contain a lower percent of units with one or more school-aged children.
Excerpted from Partnership for Strong Communities, www.pschousing.org