South-Western City Schools officials expect districtwide enrollment to remain basically the same for the next five years.

South-Western City Schools officials expect districtwide enrollment to remain basically the same for the next five years.

This school year, the district had about 20,070 students.

Brian Hamler, director of certificated personnel, presented enrollment predictions at the March 26 school board meeting.

"We're confident that these are pretty accurate," he said of the numbers.

The district expects enrollment to increase to 20,251 students in the 2012-13 school year. Elementary schools are projected to see an increase of 101 students, while intermediate schools are projected to see a decrease of 110 students. Middle schools are projected to see the loss of 16 students. The district's four high schools, including South-Western Career Academy, will see an increase of 197 students.

Hamler said he will use the enrollment predictions to begin staffing projections for next school year.

Superintendent Bill Wise attributed the slight enrollment increase to the housing market's improvement. Still, he said predicting multiple years into the future can be difficult, because enrollment is influenced by the economy and the housing market. In some cases, housing developments in the district have been platted, but construction has not started.

"Many of those have just not played themselves out," Wise said.

Still, he said, SWCS is one of the only urban school districts in the area that is maintaining and slightly increasing its enrollment.

The district's enrollment had been 20,986 for the 2007-08 school year. By 2009-10, it had plunged to 19,940, a change attributed in part to an operating levy defeat leading to all sports being canceled in the fall of 2009. In 2010-11, when fall sports were restored, enrollment was 19,984.

Also at the meeting, Grove City Mayor Richard "Ike" Stage presented the district with more than $1.68 million in tax-increment financing funds. The district included these funds in its five-year forecast.

Grove City formed the Buckeye Centre TIF in 2002 along the Stringtown Road corridor east of Interstate 71. It was created to raise money for infrastructure improvements, road reconstruction and widening, and the construction of Buckeye Parkway between Stringtown and White roads.

According to the agreement between the city and SWCS, the city would transfer funds in excess of debt service to SWCS from 2008 until 2032. Since 2009 the city has transferred $5,664,616 in Buckeye TIF funds to SWCS.