The Olentangy Local School District is among the fastest-growing districts in the state and has been for years.

While the response to growth is often at the forefront, the district has learned that accurately projecting that growth is an important step in managing the burgeoning district.

Each year, the district projects population growth for the next five school years.

District spokeswoman Kristyn Wilson said Olentangy has predicted growth within 1 percent each of the past several years.

Last September, for instance, 21,062 students were enrolled in Olentangy schools. In November 2017, the district projected there would be 21,040 by that time, missing the mark by just 22 students.

Chief Academic Officer Jack Fette said that accuracy has been important to the district because of the many layers of planning going on at all times.

"Nothing matters more in our organization than our students," he said, "and in order to meet their needs, we need to know how many there are going to be in order to allocate our resources properly."

Fette credits the district's facilities committee, made of "very smart people who are well-regarded in their own professions" who volunteer to "do the math" and plan out enrollment projections on a regular basis.

He said that committee's expertise is "unique," because it's able to keep up with the rapidly changing Delaware County landscape.

"It's always so important to keep in mind that there are so many variables at play, so it's something that has to be done annually," he said. "One big community lot gets rezoned to residential and the projections are going to change now. You can only project based on what exists and what we know is going to exist."

Wilson said a report by Ohio Development Services projects an annual increase of 1.75 percent in population for Delaware County. She said the county is projected to reach more than 210,000 residents by 2020 and more than 281,000 by 2045.

"That data, combined with district projections, shows a need for more school buildings within the next 10 years," she said. "Currently, the district is addressing elementary school overcrowding by building 18 additional classrooms onto three existing school buildings. However, the swelling elementary student population will make it necessary for the district to build two new elementary schools within the next 10 years, plus one additional elementary school by 2033-34."

The three elementary schools receiving additions are Alum Creek, Arrowhead and Wyandot Run.

District leaders already are considering a ballot issue for spring 2020 that could provide funds for a new elementary school, and also have raised the idea of a sixth middle school.

Fette said he hopes the district's proficiency with projections will help alleviate concerns about the necessity of new funding or buildings. Because the district has been so good at predicting growth, he said, residents should be assured its leaders aren't jumping the gun.

"We value transparency, and we always want people to know how we've done with our projections," he said, "so we'll use that as a point of pride, that we've been good at that, historically.

"We know what we're talking about."

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