Each October, an official enrollment count for the school year is compiled and submitted to the Ohio Department of Education. According to new data, the District added about 380 additional students between October of 2016 and October of 2017, putting the District's enrollment at more than 16,250 students. The rise in student enrollment is a long-term trend but has picked more steam during the past few years, with about 1,500 students added during that period of time. That figure is approximately the size of one of our high schools.
The 18% enrollment increase during the past 10 years represents about 2,400 additional students. The District has been able to handle this growth with minor K-8 redistricting and facility adjustments at some schools. These included 22 additional classrooms added to six elementary schools in the summer of 2016 and utilization of portable classrooms at Pinney, Deer Run, and Dublin Jerome High School.
We have reached the point however, where small tweaks and creative use of space is not going to be able to accommodate this sustained growth.
Enrollment projections can be subject to change depending on the national and local economy and other factors. If growth rates stay in the moderate to high range, the District can expect to enroll between 3,000 and 4,200 additional students during the next 10 years.
The long term solution to enrollment growth was formulated during the 2015-16 school year with the creation of a Master Plan committee to address our future facilities needs. The committee determined that over the next 10 years, the District will need two more elementary schools, a fifth middle school, additions to two of our high schools, and non-traditional high school space, which we have acquired in the form of Dublin City Schools Emerald Campus.
The recently re-formed committee is now in the process of putting timelines to these needs. For example, by 2021, enrollment projections indicate we will be about 1,200 elementary students over our capacity, that is the equivalent of two elementary schools.
Growth is taking place throughout our district, not just in areas of new construction. For example, over the next 10 years, enrollment growth at Dublin Coffman is expected to continue to increase. There are very few new housing units being added to the Coffman attendance area. The growth takes place when older residents sell their existing homes to younger residents with children.
You may ask yourself, how far does the District plan ahead? Enrollment can be complicated as factors such as the economy can drastically impact long-term numbers. Historically, our projections have been very accurate and have allowed us to plan accordingly. When it comes to building new schools, we proceed cautiously. New buildings require community approval and represent significant fixed costs to the District. We have also seen the pain other districts have experienced when having to close schools due to declining enrollment. We want to do everything we can to avoid that scenario here in Dublin City Schools. Thank you for your support of our District. We will keep you posted on this important topic.
Todd F. Hoadley, Ph.D.