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Report looks at enrollment, housing

February 09, 2005|by JULIE E. GREENE

julieg@herald-mail.com

WASHINGTON COUNTY - A Washington County Board of Education consultant explained to school board and county officials on Tuesday a new way to estimate student enrollment forecasts that better accounts for new housing construction.

Deanna Newman, president of Public Pathways Inc., of Minnesota, used a sample of active housing developments to come up with an average student yield of 1.06 students per single-family home, according to a copy of her report.

Newman said she focused on the student yield from new housing, which in the past few years has been more suburban-type or family-oriented housing.

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Her report showed enrollment estimates through the 2009-10 school year and how many seats each school would be over or under capacity.

She came up with those figures using the average student yield from active new housing developments and succession rates, said William Blum, the school system's chief operating officer.

The old way of estimating enrollments was to look at succession rates, historically how many students move onto the next grade, Blum said.

Schools Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan said, in an interview Tuesday evening, that Newman's report brings to light the issues of growth in the county and new housing being built.

Newman presented her report to the school board during a work session Tuesday before presenting it again to the board and the Washington County Commissioners during a joint meeting later that afternoon at the County Administration Building.

The school board could decide whether to adopt the report or its goals at next Tuesday's meeting, Blum said.

Morgan said the School Board is in a fact-finding stage, making sure enrollment projections are accurate.

The next step will be for the board to gather information about what can and can't be done at each school, Morgan said. For example, is there enough land at a school for an addition or more portables, what is the condition of the school and would redistricting be needed, she said.

Newman was hired last October to develop a six-year enrollment plan and facilities plan, Blum said. So far her firm has been paid approximately $14,000 at $90 an hour, he said.

Newman emphasized the facilities plan should be updated annually because situations change.

Blum said the report will be presented again at 7 p.m. on March 3 during a Facilities and Enrollment Advisory Committee meeting in the School Board auditorium. PTAs, Citizens Advisory Committees, county and city planning officials are invited to listen to the report, he said. The meeting is open to the public.

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