In a study session before the Wasatch County School District’s regular meeting on February 20th, the board and administrators heard from Davis Demographics. The firm showed an updated outlook on growth within the district over the next decade.
Wasatch School District spokesperson John Moss says the California based Davis Demographics specializes in using geographic information systems to anticipate and address school planning needs.
“Studying where every single student lives and how the construction that’s coming in is going to affect the numbers of students,” Moss explained. “So, it’s a very vital part of our planning for the future, knowing what is coming towards us as far as this title wave of children.”
Moss explains Davis starts studies by first taking the location and ages of every student in the district and plotting them on a map.
“Then they look at every construction project that’s underway,” Moss said. “There are 130 different projects being built or planned right now in Wasatch County. Over the course of the next 10 years they project an additional 12,600 homes will be built in the Valley. The majority of those are single-family dwellings, not apartments, but single-family dwellings which bring in students.”
Moss says the Sorenson Development alone will bring in enough students to duplicate the current district population.
Davis Demographics’ growth projection method is based on birth data, mobility factors, and student yield factors.
Davis reports birthrates in the district have gone down, but they also said that data matches state and national trends.
Davis also looks at mobility data which measures the number of students moving in and out of the district, as well as private school movement, and attrition at upper-grade levels.
Another contributing data set is the yield factor, which means an average of how many students each home in the area provides to the district. For example, each single-family detached house in Heber yields 1.09 students per home. In Red Ledges each detached house yields just 0.109 student per home.
Using current student data and analyzing trends, while also factoring planned developments, the firm forecasts 28% enrollment growth at the high school in the next five years and 49% over the next 10.
While Wasatch High is forecasted to experience phenomenal growth, Kindergarten through 5th grade in the district are expected to grow by a comparatively modest 13% over that same period as real estate prices rise in the valley.
“We have learned that when people make major moves in their lives—maybe moving from California to Utah—they try to schedule that around their kids’ education,” Moss continued. “So that they don’t move their children in the middle of high school, they move at the start of high school. That’s one factor, but another factor is that a lot of our younger students are in private schools, homeschooling. But when they get to the high school age, they move back into our system. So, we get a large bubble that comes in in that 9th grade year. Last year the number of freshmen we had come in with 659, and that was over 100 more than Davis Demographics predicted; because they came from this unseen population out there.”
The entire study presentation along with other documents can be found on the district’s webpage under the Future High School Tab. Moss says the district is keen on sharing information regarding future planning with the public.
“You’re well aware that our bond effort failed last fall,” Moss stated. “We are trying to take the public’s temperature, to find out what they want. So, we’re in the process of gathering that information from our community. We plan on holding several public meetings where we can not only present information but let people ask questions and give us input. We really are looking for input from our community. What is it that they want us to do with their children?”
Moss added that the timing on a potential bond would also depend on what the public wants.
Read the original story at KPCW.org