The New Albany-Plain Local School District will continue to grow even though it already is over capacity, according to district officials at the Nov. 21 school board meeting.

The New Albany-Plain Local School District will continue to grow even though it already is over capacity, according to district officials at the Nov. 21 school board meeting.

“Our design capacity is 3,800 and we’re at 4,400 this (school) year,” said director of operations Ken Stark.

The district pays for enrollment projections through consulting firms DeJong-Healy and Georgetown, Midwest & Pacific Consulting. Treasurer Brian Ramsay also calculates enrollment projections.

Stark told the school board that DeJong-Healy’s projections are usually within 1 percent of the actual figures. Last school year, for example, DeJong-Healy’s projections were within 21 students, only 0.47 percent, of the actual enrollment. DeJong-Healy projected the district would reach 4,447 students; the actual enrollment was 4,426.

One error in last year’s estimates was that the district would receive 51 more kindergarten students than actually enrolled.

School board vice president Laura Kohler asked if that was an anomaly. Stark said those students could be in other all-day kindergarten programs. The district will know next school year if those 51 students show up in first grade, he said.

This year’s report from DeJong-Healy shows the district could enroll about 100 more students per year. The district is projected to begin the 2020-21 school year with 5, 318 and the 2021-22 school year with 5,417.

School board member Michael Klein asked if that means the district must start talking about more facilities now, saying the campus already lacks sufficient space. He asked if keeping a centrally located campus remains feasible.

Stark said conversations about facilities need to take place now and offered that the most recent campus master plan, updated in 2010, showed the district would be able to accommodate 5,500 students on the central campus.

But, Stark said, the uses on campus could change and the campus itself could change if the boundaries are expanded. All of those factors would have to be taken into consideration during discussions of expanding the facilities.

Kohler said the district also is working with its benchmarking advisory committee to determine if better methods of teaching could change how the central campus is used.

“Ten years from now, we may not have all our students on the campus at the same time,” she said.

The most recent five-year financial forecast, approved by the school board in October, included the potential for a new 116,000-square-foot district facility to open in the 2015-16 school year. However, the board has not approved any bond issues for new buildings at this time.

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