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Thread: Declining elementary school enrollment

  1. #1
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    Default Declining elementary school enrollment

    Elementary school enrollment reached a recent peak in the 2000-2001 school year and has been declining since. Projections have the decline continuing until at least the 2011-2012 school year (the enrollment "horizon").

    Historical
    • 2000-2001: 1,427
    • 2001-2002: 1,378
    • 2002-2003: 1,350
    • 2003-2004: 1,347
    • 2004-2005: 1,304
    • 2005-2006: 1,283
    • 2006-2007: 1,221
    • 2007-2008: 1,213


    Projections
    • 2008-2009: 1,182
    • 2009-2010: 1,123
    • 2010-2011: 1,080
    • 2011-2012: 1,052


    Historically, projections one year out have been reasonably accurate. With each succeeding year into the future, projections become less reliable.

    Coupled with unknowns in salaries, utilities, transportation, and other costs, projecting budgets out into the future becomes more and more speculative.

  2. #2
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    Jeff,

    Thanks for posting this.

    To help people better understand the declining enrollment, I have created a graph which can be viewed here:
    http://waylandtransparency.com/asset...entDecline.pdf

    Please let me know if you find it to be inaccurate in any way.
    While I couldn't bring myself to use the term "reconfiguration", I hope that you find my italicized part of the text - (to reopen in 9/09 as K only) - satisfactory to make sure people understand that the building itself is not closing.
    John Flaherty

    Any views expressed are NOT mine alone.
    Wayland Transparency - Facts Without Spin
    http://www.waylandtransparency.com/

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    Those two charts look correct, but I didn't check every figure.

    It's important to note that the three elementary schools had 8 fewer classrooms back in 1980. The classrooms that were added in the late 1990s (4 at Claypit Hill, 2 each at Happy Hollow and Loker) were of the larger variety, and tend to be used for the upper grades with a capacity of 25 students each. In other words, the three buildings today have a capacity greater by about 200 then they did in 1980.

    As a result, a fairer comparison might raise the 920 enrollment in 1980 to an "equivalent" 1,120 now. That's a bit less than 100 children fewer than the decision point for the upcoming 2008-2009 school year (1,213), which equates, for instance, to two classrooms at Claypit Hill and one classroom each at Happy Hollow and Loker.

    Also, as hard as it is to imagine Massachusetts without Proposition 2 1/2, that was in fact the case in 1980. Coupled with relatively more moderate health insurance, utility, and transportation costs, the financial pressures were most likely less.

    I would be interested to know if anyone who was involved with the schools at the time knows of other differences relative to the present.

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    Jeff,

    Because of space needs we have today that didn't exist in 1980, i.e., keyboarding areas, computer rooms and Special Ed, I'm inclined to work with the original numbers.

    Looking at these two graphs side by side (http://waylandtransparency.com/asset...entDecline.pdf), there is a dramatic difference between the rate of decline in 1980 compared to today. With some 650 fewer students in 1980 than in 1973, the need for a closure seems reasonable.

    However with only 214 fewer students today than in 2000, closing even half of a school is much harder to understand.
    Last edited by John Flaherty; 05-05-2008 at 05:08 PM.
    John Flaherty

    Any views expressed are NOT mine alone.
    Wayland Transparency - Facts Without Spin
    http://www.waylandtransparency.com/

  5. #5
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    Default Need to work from the bottom up not the top down...

    John,

    I am confused by the approach you are taking in looking at the closure. I understand looking at the capacity v. the number of students. But I can't understand looking at the drop from peak to determine when is the right time to close a school. The peak # of students in recent history might never have come close to crowding the schools, while the peak back years ago may have.

    So while I agree with asking the question about capacity v. current need, I don't agree with the methodology of trying to answer that question by looking at drop from peak.

    Jeff, I would be interested to your reaction to John's point about changes in need (special ed, keyboarding, etc.) v. the change in number of rooms at the schools.

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    Kim,

    When I asked about declining enrollment as the reason for closing Loker (this time), I was told that it wasn't just this year or next or last, but that there was a 7 year trend of declining enrollment that pointed to the need for the closure.

    Considering that, I thought it would be useful to go back and see how many fewer students there were at the end of the 7 years leading up to the 1980 closure of Loker.

    Since the 7-year decline resulted in about 650 fewer students in 1980 than in 1973, I assumed I would see something similar in the 7 years leading up to today, or at least something close to half, since this time only 1/2 a school was closing.

    However, the real numbers are very different.
    We have only 214 fewer students today than we had 7 years ago.
    I made the graphs to illustrate the dramatically sharper decline in 1980 compared to today.
    John Flaherty

    Any views expressed are NOT mine alone.
    Wayland Transparency - Facts Without Spin
    http://www.waylandtransparency.com/

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    Quote Originally Posted by John Flaherty View Post
    Because of space needs we have today that didn't exist in 1980, i.e., keyboarding areas, computer rooms and Special Ed, I'm inclined to work with the original numbers.
    I don't quite follow how you consider one set of changes (keyboarding, etc.) but not another (8 additional classrooms, representing more than a 10% increase in capacity).

    I went back to some historical data showing minimum, average, and maximum class sizes at the elementary school (ES) level (1974-75 through 2004-05). From the mid 1970s through the late 1990s when the 8 new classrooms came online, the average ES class size hovered around 22.5. That period of time spanned the addition of technology and the emergence of more appropriate special education.

    In short, I don't see any evidence that the addition of those programs substantially changed seating availability per classroom at the elementary level. What the evidence does support, however, is the expansion of number of classrooms. With respect to capacity, elementary enrollment in the late 1970s simply doesn't equate with that today.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    I don't quite follow how you consider one set of changes (keyboarding, etc.) but not another (8 additional classrooms, representing more than a 10% increase in capacity).
    I didn't. I'm suggesting that one cancels out the other - yes, there may be some increased space, but there is also a need for that extra space to be used for keyboarding, computer rooms, special education, etc., which did not exist in 1980.

    Considering that HH's keyboarding is currently conducted in a large hallway, I would guess that we don't have a lot of empty rooms over there that are going unused.

    Let's not cloud the issue.
    The point of my graph - http://waylandtransparency.com/asset...entDecline.pdf - is to demonstrate that the number of fewer students and the rate of enrollment decline was substantially greater the first tim Loker closed, than this time. And no matter how you want to look at it, this remains true.
    John Flaherty

    Any views expressed are NOT mine alone.
    Wayland Transparency - Facts Without Spin
    http://www.waylandtransparency.com/

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    During the quarter century time frame that saw significant changes in special education and technology, Wayland did NOT see these changes decrease the number of students per classroom (keyboarding in the hallway and technology in the lab most assuredly are not consuming space in the classroom). The data clearly show this. What we most definitely did see was an INCREASE (of more than 10%) in number of classrooms.

    It is indisputable that we have more elementary school classroom capacity today than we did in 1980. The two factors (special education and technology on the one hand, added classrooms on the other) demonstrably do NOT "cancel out." Enrollment in 1980 and today simply cannot be compared on an equivalent basis, no matter how much one might wish to do so.

    The rate of enrollment decline is relevant to the extent that it drives forward-looking enrollment projects (but no more). Based on our current enrollment drop, our projections show a drop of more than 150 students through the 2011-12 school year. The fact that the decline was greater in the past doesn't change this fact or the reality that our current enrollment will fit in the 2 1/2 school configuration.

    While not without real logistical challenges, this new configuration works from a safety, educational, and financial perspective, and maintains class sizes in accordance with the School Committee's policy.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    Based on our current enrollment drop, our projections show a drop of more than 150 students through the 2011-12 school year.
    Jeff, you have said yourself, as have your fellow SC members and Dr. Burton, that you are good at projecting out a year with some degree of accuracy, but not very good beyond one year.
    Please donít throw these longer range projections out there, as it only confuses our readers and clouds the issue.


    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    The fact that the decline was greater in the past doesn't change this fact or the reality that our current enrollment will fit in the 2 1/2 school configuration.
    True. But just because you can, doesnít mean you should.
    If you really wanted to, you could go even further and disregard your own class size limitations and save even more money by cramming everyone into 2 schools instead of 2 Ĺ. But for good reasons, you chose not to do that.
    If youíd waited a year on this, the schools would not be nearly so crowded as they will be in September, you would have had a better sense on future enrollment, you would have had more time for proper planning, and the parents at all the schools would have had more time to prepare.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    While not without real logistical challenges, this new configuration works from a safety, educational, and financial perspective, and maintains class sizes in accordance with the School Committee's policy.
    Iím glad you brought that up.
    Safety, as every one of you and the Administration has agreed, should be the number one priority, above all else.
    The safety reports of Michael Abend, which you chose to ignore, clearly support what the satellite imagery illustrates (http://waylandtransparency.com/schoo...Comparison.asp ), that you can safely fit many more cars and buses safely on Lokerís property off of the public streets, for pick up and drop off, making it the better choice for the 1-5 school.
    Can you take another look at the link and tell me how you concluded that HH would be as good as Loker (or better) in terms of safety?
    Because for me and virtually everyone else I've ever shown this to, this is just not the case.
    Please help us understand how you came to that conclusion.
    John Flaherty

    Any views expressed are NOT mine alone.
    Wayland Transparency - Facts Without Spin
    http://www.waylandtransparency.com/

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    John Flaherty and I aren't very good about coloring within the lines--at least part of this thread continues in the "appropriately valuing" thread.

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    And this one is pulled from the "appropriately valuing" thread.

    Quote Originally Posted by Stacey Adelman View Post
    The front page of the Crier today has headlined Town Faces Challenges in Growth. What? Enrollment declining? I get that the article talks about economic growth, a plan for Wayland to grow economically.
    That's correct, the article said nothing about enrollment growth.

    Quote Originally Posted by Stacey Adelman View Post
    But the underlying message was that growth brings people to our town. Our town is growing, getting bigger, attracting more people. Point is, population dips and rises all the time. I've seen the DOE numbers.
    Historically, our enrollment trends have been remarkably smooth. Yes, there are dips and rises, but they are small. Our current projection has elementary school enrollment continuing to drop for at least the next four years. Should that turn around, it likely won't do so overnight.

    Quote Originally Posted by Stacey Adelman View Post
    I've got a lot to say about "mobil classrooms".
    I'd be interested to hear your thoughts. The 10 that we have in the district have served us very well.

    Quote Originally Posted by Stacey Adelman View Post
    I remember Jeff D saying something about HH being more building friendly for such classrooms. (He then took back those statements.)
    I never took that statement back. First, I stated the fact. Then, I gave my opinion that we would probably only consider short-term modular classroom space at Happy Hollow in the event of a temporary (several year) enrollment bulge followed by a decline.

    Quote Originally Posted by Stacey Adelman View Post
    Another statement from Jeff D mentioned a school works best at what capacity? Was it 92 or 93%. What's HH now? 97%? Jeff can you clarify?
    I don't know what capacity is best, assuming that best is a trade off between functionality and finances. My comments on expected capacity for the 2008-2009 school year are in this thread. Since I posted those numbers, the new breakdowns by building came out--I think that they resulted in capacities much closer to 90% for both buildings (with expected decreases in the subsequent years).

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