Despite the rapid growth in Delaware County, Buckeye Valley Local Schools officials have reported enrollment over the past decade has been steady. This fall, however, the Buckeye Valley Board of Education hired Future Think to project the district’s student population moving forward.
During the board’s Dec. 18 meeting at Buckeye Valley West Elementary, Future Think President Tracy Healy presented some future enrollment projections. The board previously hired the company in March 2017 to conduct a three-year enrollment projection.
“After conducting three different projections — high, moderate and low — the three-year low projection was most accurate,” Healy said about the 2017 forecast. “We projected there to be 2,318 (students). We’re at 2,329 this school year (2019-2020). We were within 11 students.”
Moving to the company’s newest set of projections, Healy discussed the key factors used to make the projections.
“The historical enrollment is a good indicator of what could happen in the future,” she said. “We also look at birth rate data as an indicator of what the future kindergarten classes could look like. We look at the population estimates and where those are projected to be overall in the district and then by age group. We look at housing data, some of the nonpublic enrollment and open enrollment.”
Healy said the 10-year historical enrollment showed a decrease of 4%, but over the last three years, she said there has been an increase in enrollment.
“From this year to last year, we have seen an increase of 83 students,” she said. “However, in 2019 there were 18,107 total people (living) in the district, and over the next five years, it’s projected to increase by 7% (1,200 more people).”
Healy said open enrollment peaked in 2017 when there were 33 students attending Buckeye Valley who lived outside of the district. However, Healy prefaced her future predictions on enrollment with the mention of all the housing developments in the various stages of construction in the district.
“There are no areas in the district projected to decline,” Healy said. “However, the school-age population is projected to increase by 2%.”
Healy offered three 10-year enrollment projections, the low indicating a decrease of 25 students, the moderate an increase of 143 students, and the high projection showed an increase of 400 students over the 10 years.
“We look at each of these projections based on what the level of new housing will be,” she said. “We’re pretty steady with where we are right now.”
Superintendent Andrew Miller said if the district were to go with the low and/or the moderate projection of 143 additional kids over 10 years, it is something “we probably could accommodate with our existing facilities.”
“You look at K-12, there is certainly space in our buildings but not to do everything the same way that we have done it before,” he said. “What’s going to be important is if we start to trend on that high projection, getting ahead of it and not having 35 kids show up at your doorstep that we didn’t anticipate in August. There’s plenty of solutions to it, but there is only one that makes the most amount of sense.”
Miller said he wanted to share some of the information with the staff, because it wasn’t consistent when driving down South Section Line Road and there are all the housing developments going up.
“I think it’s important to get some thought on it from the staff as well,” he said.
Contact D. Anthony Botkin at 740-413-0902. Follow him on Twitter @dabotkin.