State of Michigan loses 6,000 students last year: 'They've disappeared'

Michigan has about 1.3 million students in our K-12 system, but last year - our state lost about 6,000 students.

About 6,000 kids graduated from high school last year or left the state before graduation - but 6,000 new students did not show up in the new year to replace those who left. What's going on?

"Most of it is related to the birth rate decline in Michigan," said Don Wotruba, Michigan Association of School Boards.

Fewer kids are showing up in hospital delivery wards.

"What it really means is the amount of kids we have, is the amount of people we will have to fill jobs in Michigan down the road, and that's a problem for everyone," he said.

Declining school enrollment is not unique to Michigan, the plummeting birth rate is a world-wide problem.

And the Covid pandemic didn't help at all. The state is still waiting to recoup from the loss of 62,000 students during the pandemic.

"We had people who left the state completely, and we had kids who are off the radar," Wotruba said.  "They haven't joined a charter school, they haven't gone to online school, they haven't gone to a private school. They've disappeared."

The head of the school board association says the answer for state lawmakers is to adopt state policies that will attract those 20-year-olds who can go anywhere to get a job. In addition, the goal is to prevent the 'brain drain.'

"Keep the kids who graduate from our schools in our state," he said.

Right now 40% are walking off the stage and into another state.