The Olentangy Local Schools facilities committee believes the district has stretched space in its school buildings about as far as possible.
Committee member Sharon Jurawitz presented the committee's recently completed annual enrollment projections to the school board during its Sept. 26 meeting.
"This year's projections are higher than what we projected last year," Jurawitz said.
Additions to three elementary school buildings and pre-K classrooms added in other locations, including the Delaware Area Career Center, have "helped us extend the need for a new building, but we're at the point where we need to consider new buildings," she said.
Overall, the projections estimate enrollment growth districtwide from the current 22,165 in 2019-20 to 27,346 in 2029-30. About half of that growth is projected at the elementary school level.
Based on the projections, enrollment would surpass the available classroom space at both the elementary schools and middle schools in 2022-23.
Jurawitz said high school enrollment is measured by building rather than classroom, due to the nature of the curriculum. The committee projections show average enrollment at the district's four high schools would exceed the design capacity of 1,800 in 2022-23. Enrollment projects to exceed the "stretch capacity" of 2,000 per high school in 2028-29.
Jurawitz said the committee uses past enrollment numbers, the percentage change in enrollment year to year by grade level, building permits and the number of available single-family and multifamily units in the district to create its projections. The committee compares these numbers to population-growth projections conducted by the Delaware County Regional Planning Commission.
She said the facilities committee has been conducting such projections for the district for about 20 years.
"We present the information as we have gathered it as a resource for the board to provide the right staffing and facilities," Jurawitz said.
Jack Fette, the district's chief academic officer, said the facilities committee has demonstrated the ability to accurately project enrollment.
"The board relies on that committee to inform important decisions about the future of the district," Fette said. "As our enrollment continues to grow, those deficits will increase significantly year over year. We trust this information, and we're in discussions now on how to best prepare the district and the community for continued enrollment growth."
School board member Mindy Patrick said the board appreciates the "dedication and accuracy" it sees each year from the committee.
"We have great confidence in their work, which is crucial to our ability to strategize on how to manage growth," she said.