At last night’s board meeting, the board approved making their enrollment projections public.
Here is the updated DPAC report on projections and capacity:
The body of the report has the school district’s 2011 projections, and appendix E has the revised 2012 projections. In some areas of the district, these projections differ significantly.
Why are Enrolment Projections Important?
Projections matter because enrolment projections are a factor in whether individual schools are closed or opened. They matter because they can indicate whether or not more space is needed in a particular community. They matter because they affect the attention that is paid to a particular school – if a school is projected with declining enrolment, it may get fewer upgrades than a school with rising enrolment.
Projections should be public.
Projections out to 2014 were publically given in the district closure report. The handouts given at each closure meeting had the projections for the affected schools at the top of the page. The chair of the school board has given interviews to the newspaper stating: ““Our projections are status quo, we’re not seeing increases. We’re going to lose a tremendous amount of kids out of Heather Park, we’re not seeing huge issues as far as enrollment increases at Glenview and then if we move to the western part of the city and up to the College Heights area, it’s kind of the same situation.” Given that the projections are being used for planning purposes and to answer questions from parents, and also given that this is a public school district, numbers and assumptions used towards the planning should be made public.
Projections depend on assumptions.
As the projections are critical to the future of schools, so are the assumptions critical to the projections. Any projection that does not have explainable assumptions is fatally flawed. Without an outline of the assumptions behind the projection, it is unknown as to whether or not the projection depends on out-dated data, inaccurate assumptions, or assumptions made to influence a particular course of action.
Projections should be viewed cautiously.
As with any projection of the future, it is difficult to be 100% accurate except by accident. Along with this is a requirement to be cautious about which projection is considered. For example, if the question at hand is how many elementary schools should be in a particular area, looking at the trend for total student registration would be misleading.
Projections are pivotal for planning
It is essential to plan ahead for adequate accommodation of students, and to avoid unnecessary expenses.