School district's growth outstripping predictions
Delaware leaders looking for cause of ballooning enrollment -- and for money in budget to add teachers
The Delaware City School District is growing faster than expected -- and district leaders are reacting quickly to the surprise revelation.
Jake Tawney, director of student services, late last month presented school board members with facts regarding projected enrollment and current enrollment figures.
Every year, the Ohio Department of Education bases its funding model for school districts on a measurement of students taken each year in October.
The October enrollment figure is used by the state, the district and other groups to determine enrollment trends and make predictions.
The school district's 10-year enrollment forecast was put together by a group called Planning Advocates and takes into account the October figures as well as city records, home-buying trends, census records and other demographic records.
According to the forecast, enrollment was predicted to increase by 160 students in the 2012-13 school year and 140 students in the 2013-14 school year.
However, the actual enrollment increase was 200 students in the 2012-13 school year, and Tawney predicts a 215-student increase this school year.
"This means that we are exceeding the predicted increases," he said. "We are not sure if this is due to more people moving into the district and enrolling, or if fewer students are leaving the district. We need to find out why this is happening."
Tawney said it's important to realize enrollment fluctuates on a day-to-day basis due to students coming and going.
Planning Advocates predicted the district's student population would continue to increase, but that the increase would get smaller each year until it plateaus in the 2019-20 school year.
Tawney said he thinks the prediction about the plateau is correct, but the timing is off. He said he believes it won't happen until later based on the fact that enrollment seems to be increasing instead of decreasing each year.
Tawney stressed the enrollment figure doesn't necessarily mean "butts in seats," because it doesn't take into account students taking online classes, half-day kindergarten students, and high school students who leave the building each day for the career center.
"We aren't as concerned about the facilities, because with the bond issue passing, we will have plenty of room for our students," he said. "The community knew we needed more space and believed it was a good use of their money."
Tawney said the challenge will be staffing the buildings. A 200-student increase could mean an additional 20 teachers would be needed, he said.
"The HR manager, superintendent and treasurer are working through how we will be able to accommodate additional teachers in the budget," he said.
This year, there have been a few surprises in the number of students who enrolled in a particular school, which has caused the district to scramble.
"We had to add an extra kindergarten teacher at the 11th hour for Conger Elementary School," he said. "We are trying to get a better handle of this for future planning."
Tawney said some of these numbers are hard to predict due to the number of options students have with online classes, homeschooling and other programs that take students out of the buildings.
"We want to provide services in our schools that students need to be successful," he said. "We have more and more students taking advantage of those, which means there is a greater demand for our district."