Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Enrollment Numbers 2013-2014: Who knew closing Hoover would be even a worse idea?

Enrollment numbers for 2013-2014 are up now (to compare, check at the 4-2-2013 board agenda). A couple of quick thoughts: (1) we exceeded the enrollment projections from last year by 68 students in K-12. (2) That's approximately a 20% increase over what we thought we would have just last year. (3) 75% of that increase was at the elementary level and spread across all parts of the district. (4) The 10-year projection is significantly higher with approximately 800 more students in 2022-23 than in last year's study. (5) These enrollment projections, apparently, do not include preschoolers and non-general education special program classes. And that could be even more of a problem because there are some indications coming from the administration that capacity numbers (but definitely not BLDD enrollment numbers) do include preschoolers and special program classes (e.g., autism classes).

Two questions: (1) Why wasn't the board informed about these numbers last night at the operations committee? (2) Why exactly are we tearing down capacity to rebuild it when we need all we can get.

Tearing down Hoover will, it appears, likely result in having 10-15 more modulars across the district.

UPDATE: I still think my overall point stands, but apparently, I misunderstood the point that the administrator in question made with regard to my point (5). The idea was that classrooms that are used for preschoolers and for special program classrooms were not part of the capacity calculations that the district uses. Although the enrollment projections don't include these students, neither do the capacity calculations. (Hat tip to Jeff McGinness and Eric Johnson for pointing out my mistake.)

Still, that method of calculation raises a number of other concerns:

(1) capacity is, then, clearly understated at schools like Hoover. Hoover is on the pretty high end in terms of classrooms dedicated to special program classes and preschool classes. I know we have a least three (a preschool class and two autism classes), and perhaps four (an additional special education class?). A number of other schools have significantly fewer of those types of classes. That would suggest that Hoover is significantly larger than the numbers suggest. That's true for other schools too like Twain. Is it judicious to act as if "operational efficiency" is lower at Twain and Hoover when the district has chosen to place good and valuable programs in those locations?

(2) We will still have a significant problem in capacity if special programs classes and preschool classes grow at a proportional rate compared to overall growth. We will probably need more preschool classrooms and more special program classes. Will not having that space mean that we (a) cut back on those valuable programs or (b) bring back our modulars. 

(3) It made me wonder about how the addition of the multipurpose rooms is accounted in capacity. At Hoover, we have 2 classrooms that are used currently to fulfill purposes that are fulfilled by multipurpose rooms at some of the newer facilities. If those classrooms were not considered as capacity because of their present use, then that will underestimate capacity at schools that will get a multipurpose facility. I'm assuming this is true across all such schools. If so, then will we get an extra two classes worth of capacity for each multipurpose room that we build. If that's likely, it hasn't been accounted as such in the calculations. (I recognize that this would help address capacity issues that I'm raising above, and that's a good thing, but it also means our capacity figures are off, no?)

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