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Frank A. Douglass Insurance Agency

Census results may tell incomplete story

Houghton County was a bastion of growth last decade, around two percent, amid population declines throughout the rest of the Upper Peninsula, according to the Census Bureau. Recent data suggest the good news may be understated given the scope of newer residents calling the Copper Country home. At Monday’s Board of Education meeting Superintendent Doreen Kramer talked about the enrollment growth with the Houghton-Portage Township District.

Currently we have 1,425 students enrolled in the district. Our elementary is at 626, our middle school is at 320, and our high school is at 479. Our numbers are healthy and we feel good about that.

She says school of choice leads to some influx, usually at the elementary school level, but most of the new students expected this fall are a result of families moving into the area.

It is a little bit larger this year [enrollment change]. The principals have said they have been touring the building and we have new families that have moved to the area. They want to go to Houghton Schools.

Roughly 60 additional pupils represents a growth rate of over four percent for Houghton-Portage Township, and that comes as the Copper Island Academy is opening, with around 350 students signed up. Earlier this year, Houghton-Portage Township was predicting an enrollment decline speaking to how quickly the situation has changed locally. An unprecedented increase in per-pupil state aid means the district is looking at a significant windfall in future years.

Last year’s census was conducted mostly online and in the early part of the year, before a rush of people headed from the inner cities of places like Chicago, Minneapolis, and Milwaukee for smaller, more stable municipalities. Plenty of cities, including others in Michigan, are questioning the accuracy of the count.

Detroit has threatened to file an appeal after the Census Bureau showed the city lost over 10 percent of its residents. Mayor Mike Duggan says he can easily prove the undercount. The census says there are barely a quarter million residential households and Duggan says DTE utility bills go out to over 280,000 customers, a 30,000 home difference.

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