Boston’s population is growing, so why is the number of school-aged children declining?

Boston's population is growing, so why is the number of school-aged children declining?

BOSTON — Boston’s population has exploded in recent years, but not every age group has been growing as fast.

A report from the Boston Foundation has noted an alarming decrease in the number of school-aged children in the city. According to their numbers, there are 10,000 fewer kids between the ages of five and 17.

The overall population of the city, however, has skyrocketed by 10 times that number.

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“The city has been growing in so many ways over the last few decades but the school aged children population is just in the opposite direction," said Luc Shuster, the Director of Boston Indicators, the firm that did the research for the Boston Foundation.

The organization is working with and relaying the findings to policy makers who have been focused on strengthening the city by building more affordable housing, better quality schools and programs as well as ensuring more safety around Boston’s neighborhoods.

Typically, families will have a more global approach when deciding where to raise their children. The cost of living, the quality of schools and the overall safety of the neighborhoods are all things families consider when making such a big decision. This study is meant to help the city tackle those topics and any questions that stem from them.

“When you lose a healthy mix of families with kids I think you lose something core to what it means to be a community," said Schuster.

One local couple has been raising their family in Dorchester, but with rising housing costs and a decline in school quality, they have considered moving elsewhere.

“The price is high and the quality of the apartments is trash for lack of a better word," said one parent.

While many say they’ve noticed financial and educational changes in the city, others say it’s still not enough to drive them out of the city. Some cite other reasons that outweigh the rising cost of housing and changes in education, such as being closer to what the city has to offer as well as diversity.

“We haven’t felt the effects of it being impossible, but as far as quality school care, I guess that is the issue," said Cassaundra Lomax, of Boston.

Parents like Emily Cochran, for example, want to raise their children in the city so they can be more exposed to diversity and culture, but it might not be financially possible for them.

“Probably when we need bigger space as a growing family and the cost to rent or buy in the city becomes too expensive,” said Cochran.

“Costs are rising," said Melissa Roberts. “I mean, I just got my rent; it is going up next year. It’s continually rising. It would be difficult [to live] directly in the city, but maybe outside the city is more doable."

Boston City Council President Andrea Campbell said “inequality in Boston is increasing and families are being pushed out. When families opt out of our neighborhoods and our school system, the whole city suffers.”

And the school system is, in fact, being impacted by the changing number of children.

In a statement, Boston Public Schools told Boston 25 News it’s strategic plan and budget “aims to reverse recent declines in enrollment by creating excellent schools in every neighborhood that will become families’ first choice for their children”. The research group also says the city has become more racially diverse with people of color now making up nearly 60 percent of the population.

More parks and better schools are high priorities for many people when deciding whether to raise a family in the city or move out to the suburbs.

“There are parks but not where you can let your children play freely and the quality of life for a family is not conducive to an urban area," said Leslie Kulig, of Boston.