New projections for New Albany-Plain Local Schools' enrollment at build-out show fewer students than previous projections.

New projections for New Albany-Plain Local Schools' enrollment at build-out show fewer students than previous projections.

New figures also show build-out occurring sooner than previously thought.

New Albany-Plain Local school board members Jan. 25 heard a presentation by district business and operations director Ken Stark about the district's projected enrollment for the next nine years.

Enrollment for the 2009-10 school year, as of October, was 4,180 students.

According to the projections, which were made by two firms this year, the district is on course to keep a central campus, Stark said.

Steve Pleasnick, a New Albany Village Council member and president of Georgetown, Midwest and Pacific Consulting, presented his revised findings for enrollment through the district's build-out, which he is projecting for the 2018-2019 school year.

The Dejong Healy group studied the live birth rates and survival rates in the district to project the number of potential kindergartners and the number of overall students coming into the district in future years.

This is the first year the district has used the Dejong Healy group, and officials said they chose to use the firm to help understand future kindergarten needs.

"Enrollment projections are vital," Stark said, adding that it is not an exact science.

He said the two firms, as well as district treasurer Brian Ramsay, used a few different statistical methods to estimate the number of students coming into the district.

According to Pleasnick's figures this year, about 5,351 students are estimated to be enrolled in the district at build-out (2018-19).

Last year, Pleasnick estimated about 5,500 students would be enrolled at build-out, which he then estimated would be in or around 2025.

Residential build-out occurs when the number of houses that could be built within the school district's boundaries reaches its peak.

Pleasnick's revised figures are based on the number of residential building permits, home sales and developer plans, among other factors.

The Dejong Healy findings vary by only 70 students at build-out.

"Two different processes were done by two qualified firms," Stark said. "(They are) only 70 students apart for the 2018-19 school year. That is only slightly more than a percent apart. That is only about five students per grade."

Stark said enrollment is difficult to project 10 years out.

"The numbers two to four years out, we can be fairly certain those are historically fairly precise," he said. "The idea, as we move forward with planning, is to make allowances for some of that variability but have a short-term plan that deals with things we can deal with."

Stark and Pleasnick said the district would have to continue to work with local developers and public officials to manage growth.

"We need to impress on them that they have the responsibility to help us (manage) growth," Pleasnick said.

Ramsay said new factors, such as changes in infrastructure, could affect projections.

"If water and sewer were to come to the northern part of the district, all bets are off at that time," he said.

Stark said it is particularly difficult to gauge the number of potential kindergartners.

"We don't have great information," he said. "Actually, we (hardly have) any information on parents that have chosen to do kindergarten outside of the district. Based on the numbers we have seen over the past couple of years, it's probably between 20 to 40 kids."

NA-PLS Superintendent Steve Castle said the district plans to do a district-wide survey later this year to help gauge the number of kindergartners planning to enroll in coming years. He said the fact that parents would have the option to choose between all-day and half-day kindergarten also complicates the numbers.

Stark agreed.

"We can make our best guess, but until the families make that change between the half-day and the full-day, that is when we'll know," he said.

Stark said the enrollment projections were scheduled to be presented to the campus master plan committee Tuesday, Jan. 26, during the group's first meeting, and the figures would serve as the basis for the group's work.

In other matters, the board voted 4-1 to hire Cara Riddel as the new human-resources director. Member Mark Ryan dissented.

Riddel, who previously was the HR director in the Newark City Schools, is replacing former director Pat Steward, who retired earlier this month. Riddel will start in February.