(NewsNation) — In some of America’s biggest cities, there are a growing number of schools with a shrinking number of students.
For now, COVID-19 relief money is helping to subsidize operations, but that will not always be the case.
One of the more pressing issues this creates is that most of these schools were not originally designed to be small, leaving some educators afraid that the future will bring tighter budgets.
The problem is pronounced in the second largest school district in the country, as 20,000 students are now missing from the Los Angeles Unified School District roster.
The L.A. superintendent says he personally called about 50 families and was told in some cases that children are staying home to care for younger siblings. In other cases, he reports that some kids are working jobs to help the family.
Public school systems across the U.S. were already shedding a large numbers of students as families relocated amid the pandemic, with some frustrated by in-person learning policies seeking alternatives such as home schooling and private schools.
NewsNation spoke with a Florida Gulf Coast University professor of education who says she believes the answer will be public school listening to the needs of parents and reflecting their desires.
That includes topics regarding safety in school, curriculum, learning styles and parents having a say in choosing school leaders.
“We are still thinking ’50s, ’60s, ’70s. And we’re in 2020. And so we’ve got to think about what occurred with the pandemic, what families want, and how we move forward, and how our society has changed very much in the last two years … if we don’t respond to that, we will see schools shutting down,” Dr. Elizabeth Elliott said.
Officials in Los Angeles, New York City and Chicago have said they’re focused on luring students back into the system — not school closures.
Addressing these topics with parents directly could likely be the start of that process.