Olentangy BOE presented with demographic update

Based on projected student population numbers presented to the Olentangy Local Schools Board of Education on Jan. 25, the ever-growing district could see an influx of nearly 3,000 additional students by the time the 2027-2028 school year rolls around.

Scott Leopold, a partner with Cooperative Strategies (specializes in financial and demographic planning for education), said his firm was asked to provide a demographic update of the district by taking a closer look at the enrollment projections based on location of residence using the 2018-2019 school year attendance boundaries for each school building within the district.

As expected, the projected increase in the student population from the current total of 20,500 students to the estimated total of 23,494 for the 2027-2028 school year isn’t equally dispersed districtwide, but instead confined to various areas. The result is some schools are projected to see a large increase, while some are expected to see a decrease in population.

For example, at the elementary level, the student body population living within the boundaries of Johnnycake Corners Elementary is expected to increase from 621 for the current school year to 847 for the 2027-2028 school year, while during the same time frame, the student population at Alum Creek Elementary is projected to decrease from 501 to 450.

At the middle school level, the highest projected increase in student population from the present school year to the 2027-2028 school year is expected at Berkshire Middle School (973 to 1,480), while data for Hyatts Middle School shows a decrease in students (943 to 910).

In terms of projected student population based on location of residence and the new attendance boundaries for the district’s high schools, there is some concern over the projected figures at Orange High School, which forecasts a total of 2,142 students residing within its boundaries for the 2027-2028 school year. The second highest projected total is Berlin High School with 1,850 students living within its attendance boundaries a decade from now.

Leopold said while the numbers for Orange High School over the coming years “look a little scary,” he cautioned that many of the residences within the school’s boundaries are apartments, especially around Polaris.

“I believe that those students, when they get out of elementary, they may move elsewhere in the district for a bigger home,” he said. “This is something we just have to keep an eye on and make sure that this doesn’t necessarily continue to pick up.

“I just don’t think that people who have middle school and high school kids are going to want to pay $1,500 to $2,000 a month for an apartment if they can help it.”

For historical purposes, Leopold said data was collected as far back as the 2005-2006 to see how student population numbers would have fared back then under the new attendance boundaries to be implemented next school year.

The biggest changes from the 2005-2006 school year (total student population was 10,703) to the current school year have occurred at Olentangy Meadows Elementary (142 students to 598), Hyatts Middle School (274 to 943) and Orange High School (524 to 1,851).

By Joshua Keeran

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Contact Joshua Keeran at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @KeeranGazette.