COVID-19 could impact enrollments, budgets as districts prepare for new school year

Pandemic impacting school enrollment
Pandemic impacting school enrollment

HOUSTON – As school districts finalize their plans for the new school year which, for most students, starts in roughly two months, some parents have already made up their minds. Their kids won’t be going back.

Homeschooling on the rise

“I think if I am going to have distance learning, I want to be able to pick the curriculum," said Jennifer Benedict, a mother who is already homeschooling her two kids. When the pandemic pushed them into distance learning, Benedict said she found it was much easier and rewarding to do it herself.

“If we were just to do phonics math, a little bit of history, it really doesn’t take any time,” she said.

Channel 2 Investigates polled school districts across our area, and we didn’t find a huge exodus of students yet. In fact, most districts are maintaining or increasing enrollment. But that could change once districts announce their final plans for the new school year.

“It’s more health and safety concerns,” said Bob Popinski, Executive Director of Raise Your Hands Texas. “What we’re seeing is there’s not a lot of education and stability out there right now."

State spending per student

The bottom line is there are clear pockets of uncertainty, if not discontent, with institutional education, whether it’s ineffective distance learning or COVID-19 concerns in the classroom. Ultimately it could have a disastrous impact on school budgets.