Facilities and Programming Study: projected 20 percent increase in enrollment
An update on progress towards the district’s Master Facilities and Programming Study was presented at the Sept. 11, 2012 School Board meeting by Amy Schultz, the district’s director of business services, and Dr. Jeff Ronneberg, superintendent.
The district recently received preliminary data from an enrollment study conducted by Hazel Reinhardt Consulting Services that will provide the district with enrollment projections ten years into the future, as well as a facility capacity study conducted by Wold Architects & Engineers. Reinhardt is the former state demographer.
With the consultant projecting a 20 percent increase in enrollment within ten years, combined with facilities already at or near capacity, the district will now complete its nearly two-year study, identify short- and long-term facilities and program modification and their implications, make recommendations to the School Board, and take necessary actions within the next 3-4 months.
Projections from 2002-04 of future enrollment growth helped shape the subsequent expansion and updating of district facilities. New projections –now out to the year 2021 – show larger and more sustained growth than previously projected.
“Many districts would love to see this level of growth, “Dr. Ronneberg said, “and so do we. We are excited about the structural growth we have, with our largest enrollment being in the elementary grades moving forward. Most districts are facing the challenge of just the opposite, with reductions looming as a result of having smaller enrollment in the early grades. This structural growth is good news, and we will have to make short- and longer-term decisions to effectively address it.”
Dr. Ronneberg said that the results of the preliminary enrollment study, as well as the current and emerging influences the district has been or must now consider, include the following:
- Enrollment across the district is projected to increase by 20% over the next 8-10 years
- Elementary enrollment in grades K-3 is projected to increase slightly and stabilize over the next 10 years.
- Northpoint and Woodcrest Elementary Schools are being utilized near potential capacity, while Park Terrace Elementary School is currently under-utilized as a facility.
- Westwood Schools are currently at their potential capacity, and are projected to see a significant increase in enrollment over the next five years, therefore this is the final year that Spanish Immersion can have all grades at Westwood.
- A variety of programming needs and locations must be considered in planning efforts, including center-based programming in the areas of early childhood and special education, Lighthouse, Learning Alternatives Community School, and the potential for expanded all-day, every-day kindergarten through choice and/or legislative action
- High school enrollment is expected to increase over the next 10 years, hitting 2,000 students by 2021.
History: Continuation of a previous study
Schultz explained the current Master Facilities and Programming Study is a continuation of a study that began during the summer of 2010. In tracing the history of the study, she noted that what was then the district’s K-3 Programming and Boundary Study began in the Fall 2010 as Phase I of a year-and-a-half process. As a result of this initial phase of the study no recommendations for programming or boundary changes for 2011-12 resulted, but the need to refine boundaries in the near future became evident.
The School Board developed a Guiding Change document – which identifies decision-making parameters for administrative recommendations – that identified the following desired results of an elementary programming and boundary study recommendation: a plan for growth and placement of choice options including the Spanish Immersion, Learning Alternatives, and Lighthouse Program; a plan that results in effective utilization of space and staffing; and a plan that effectively manages current and future enrollment trends
In Phase II, the district continued to collect, review, and update data related to elementary enrollment and programming options, as well as optimal school and facility usage. A Design Team, comprised of school principals, administrators, and transportation officials utilized this data to identify dozens of potential boundary and programming scenarios throughout the fall of 2011.
As a result, in Fall 2011, over forty scenarios for boundary changes were developed and reviewed by the Design Team, subsequently reduced to a smaller number of what were considered the most viable options through ongoing consultation with an Input Team of community members and parents, for review at December meetings of the School Board.
By December 2011, Schultz said, the district could have proposed boundary changes for 2012-13 that would work in the short-term, but with little flexibility to manage changing enrollments and student needs. While the study was taking place, the district the district experienced enrollment growth of nearly 200 students in grades K-3 from 2010-11 to 2011-12, and K-2 grade levels were now averaging about 100 more student than grades 3-12.
A boundary change at that time would have been short-sighted, and the Board agreed, as the increase in students moving forward to Westwood caused space concerns, so the district decided to “measure twice and cut once,” electing to partner with Hazel Reinhardt Consulting Services on a more expansive far-ranging 10-year projection of K-12 enrollment, and to enlist Wold Architects, already familiar with the schools, to conduct a capacity analysis student of all district sites.
The result would be a Master Facilities and Programming Plan completed in the first part of the 2012-13 school year.
Preliminary data from the ten-year enrollment study
Several weeks ago, Hazel Reinhardt Consulting Services delivered preliminary data for the ten-year enrollment study. Among the data was what Reinhardt described as “a conservative projection” of a 20 percent enrollment increase in the next 8-10 years, 6,200 total students, and a 2,000-student high school by 2021.
In 2011-2012, the average size of the district’s grades 9-12 classes was 338, the average size of the K-3 grades was 430. The projection of kindergarten students for 2012-13 was 439; as of the first week of school the district welcomed 489 kindergarten students.
The presentation from the School Board meeting, including some of the data provided by Reinhardt, can be viewed on the link below. For the purpose of Reinhardt’s study enrollment numbers do not include Early Childhood, Online Learning, Lighthouse Program, or Learning Alternatives students. When added, enrollment projections would be higher than those in her slides.
The presentation can be viewed here: Update on the Master Facilities and Programming Study
Facility capacity study
Throughout the past four months, Wold Architects performed a capacity analysis on all K-12 schools. The study documented how all sites are currently using their facilities, the potential or maximum capacity of each school, and the planning capacity of each. In addition, they reviewed all sites for possible classroom additions should they be necessary.
Results of the study now provide the district with data on Current Usage capacity (capacity based on how a site is currently used); Potential Capacity (maximum capacity if every classroom had the class size target number of students); and Planning Capacity (potential capacity adjusted down for any classrooms used for center-based programming and reduced further to allow for student movement and effective learning options.)
Planning and next steps
With the ten-year enrollment study and facility capacity studies completed, Dr. Ronneberg said next steps and a projected timeline include the following:
Final projections completed by October 5, to include adjustments based on Fall 2012 Actual Enrollment data, as well as a housing analysis of the district
The Design Team will continue to study and identify facilities options to address current and emerging needs and influences through September. This will include identification of costs as well as program implications.
The School Board will refine the Guiding Change (decision-making parameters, including an enrollment projection target) and review facilities options in late September-early October
The Design Team will narrow options to those that effectively address needs in the short-term and will identify their resulting implications through October
The School Board will review option(s) recommended as viable by the Design Team in late October/early November
The Design Team will make a recommendation for facilities and programming modifications necessary to address needs for Fall 2013.
The School Board will take action, as appropriate, regarding these recommendations in November or December 2012
- A draft of a long-term Master Facilities and Programming Plan presented to School Board in December 2012