In our previous article, we discussed how our community is changing in terms of the tax base. In this article, we will discuss the changes in our community’s demographics. As with all communities, the make-up of the residents evolves with time. This evolution impacts how the school district operates, or needs to operate in the future.
One key change is occurring in our population. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the population for Lakewood schools has increased from 13,260 in 2006, to 15,006 in 2015. During this same time however, the district has experienced a slow but steady decline in our student enrollment, moving from 2,250 students in 2006 to 1,845 in 2016. The contradiction can be explained by looking at how the district’s population is changing.
The median age of a community indicates an age where there are as many people above that age, as there are below it. For Lakewood, according to the Census Bureau, in 2015 the district’s median age was 45.3 years old. Compared to the year 2000 when the median age was 36.2 years old, it can be concluded that the community is getting older. After considering that the community is also growing from a population perspective, it stands to reason that much of the growth in population is coming from older individuals, as opposed to younger families.
Another look at the Census Bureau’s aging statistics reveals that since 2009, the district has experienced a decline of 2.00% in residents between the ages of 0 and 19 years, and a slight increase of 2.20% in people ages 20 to 44 years old. In contrast, people between the ages of 45 and 64 increased 17.10%, and people 65 and older increased by 25.20%. According to these statistics, today more than 51% of the community is older than the age of 45.
Lakewood, as a community, is aging. The change seems to be reflected both in long term residents, as well as new residents. At the same time, the district is experiencing a decline in enrollment. There are many options the school district can address based on this type of gradual shift in the community’s composition. We will discuss these options in more detail in later articles.