Populations in many of the developed countries are growing older. There are two important factors, life expectancy is increasing and birth rate is on the decline.
Young families in the U.S are averaging 2 and fewer children per family. When I was growing up, 4 to 6 children in a family was not uncommon.
The median age in the U.S in 2006 was 37. Seventeen percent of the population was made up of people 60 and older. In 50 years, it is expected that 27% of the population will be 60 and older. (AARP, New Zealand report, 2007)
This modifying age structure, where the emphasis in the U.S especially, has been on youth has a great significance. I've indicated that we should increase the age span of usefulness in this country, here especially where people of age are generally considered to be superfluous.
This is the broader context. What does in mean for Shorewood now?
One of the central attractions for living in Shorewood has been our excellent school system, a desirable place for families with young children. Today our school enrollment is declining. Fewer children per family adds up to fewer children per dwelling.
The restrictive situation in Shorewood does not easily allow for more housing for people with children. That however, seems to be one of principle objectives expressed in our redevelopment policies.
Yet with the increasing school costs and rising school taxes, people with fewer children and people with no children still remain on the increase. We are even providing for additional condos for people without children.
Shorewood's population is growing older. This means that an increasing number of older people without children are living in Shorewood and can afford to pay the increasing school taxes. This does not mean however that they are interested in a policy that places more tax on them, including school tax.
School facilities are under-utilized, are aging and are now requiring costly upgrading. It would seem that if the school programs could be expanded to include many of the needs of our aging population that a broader support for our schools would materialize.
The State also would be more inclined to provide more funds for schools with elderly programs, perhaps each elder person could be counted within the total enrollment. Shorewood could lead the way in this regard if we develop that inclination.
I've for sometime suggested that we explore this proposition with our State elected officials. Now while we're considering spending more money for upgrading our facilities might be a good time to begin talking with State officials.
They might also begin talking to us. For this overall situation becomes a State problem as well. Who will lead us?