Declining Enrollment? Or Poor projections? Also: Trib Letter to the Editor

Posted: January 17, 2013 in Community Information, Feasibility Studies, Letters
Tags: , , ,

The recommendation to close an school in the North Allegheny School District relies on two assumptions:

1. Enrollment will decline overall

2. Class size guidelines (not maximums) will be 25 students for grades K-2 and 30 students for grades 3-5

The district’s ability to close a small elementary school is contingent on a decline in student enrollment, which relies on projections prepared by the administration, as well as those contained in the Phase 2 report.
The 5-year enrollment projections prepared by the administration have consistently understated actual enrollment for the past 13 years.

Enrollment Graph 1

Consider the following:
  • In November 1999, the 2004 enrollment was forecast at 7856;
    2004 actual was 8193 (+337) [11/24/99 Post Gazette]
  • In February 2006, the 2010 enrollment was forecast at 7814;
    2010 actual was 8126 (+312) [2/2/06 Post Gazette]
  • In October 2007, the 2012/13 enrollment was forecast at 7774;
    2012 actual is 8212 (+438) [10/7/07 Post Gazette]
  • In September 2008, the 2013/14 enrollment was forecast at 7835;
    at the November 24, 2012 board meeting it was revised to 8201 (+366)
    [9/24/08 school board minutes]
  • In September 2009, the 2014/15 enrollment was forecast at 7926;
    at November 24, 2012 board meeting it was revised to 8241 (+315)
    [ 9/23/09 school board minutes]
  • In September 2010, using the trend projection formulas that the District has implemented over the past decade, it was anticipated that enrollment will show a slight increase over the next five years. Enrollment in 2010 was 8126. [9/22/10 school board minutes]

This review of the 5-year forecasts in the years 1999, 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009 demonstrates that there is consistent evidence of the administration underestimating enrollment by an average of 353 students. Given this trend, it is reasonable to assume that 2018/2019 enrollment would be 8585 and not the projected 8101 students noted in the most recent 5-year forecast. If one-third of this increase is attributable to elementary school students, the district will exceed the target capacity of 3,720 students established by the administration.

The graph below breaks elementary enrollment out of the total enrollment forecast and compares actual to projected enrollment for 2011/12 and 2012/13.

Elementary Enrollment

The enrollment projections contained in the Phase 2 report are even lower than the forecasts prepared by the administration.
If it is acknowledged that the administration has consistently underestimated school enrollment since 1999, it is of considerable concern that the elementary enrollment forecasts set forth in the Phase 2 report are even lower than the administration’s elementary enrollment forecasts for the period 2014-2021.

For example, the Phase 2 report projected an elementary enrollment of 3278 students for 2015/2016; this was the number used in the administration’s October 24 presentation.  However, in the November 14 presentation, the administration provided its own forecast of 3401 students for 2015/2016.
Given that the school board minutes over the past 13 years reflect that the board has been concerned with the administration underestimating enrollment, it is of great concern that forecasts contained in the Phase 2 report fall even further below the administration’s projections for the years 2014-2021. If these forecasts are acceptable, it would appear that North Allegheny is preparing for a significant and unprecedented decline in its student population despite evidence of new housing starts and continued migration into the district.
————–

Letter to the Editor, Pittsburgh Tribune- Review, January17, 2013

Wrong NA fix

I am a father of four children who attend North Allegheny School District. We chose NA because of its reputation as providing a quality education.

I am a proponent of reducing costs within the district and originally supported the concept of closing an elementary school. I read the news story “Community group questions North Allegheny enrollment projections” (Dec. 6 and TribLIVE.com). Afterward, I read the Save NA Schools group‘s report mentioned in the story and realized that I made a mistake in trusting the district‘s administrators to make a sound decision.

First, closing a small elementary school (one of 12 total schools) in a district with a $127 million budget should save more like $5 million a year than $850,000 a year. Second, it is clear that at a minimum, the district should re-evaluate its data and analyze this plan again. Finally, what is really driving the deficit problem? Teachers‘ pensions.

The administration needs to address that problem with something other than cannibalizing schools, reassigning hundreds of students to different buildings and overcrowding classrooms for a pittance that will not solve the deficit problem.

Scott E. Russell

McCandless

Advertisements
Comments
  1. Joe Cramblit says:

    Has anyone ever gone to the Jon Thomas website. On the bottom are buttons. One is is for educational facilities. It lists three of our elementary schools as previous projects. Construction Management jobs. If his phase 2 report indicates Peebles should close, do you think he is motivated by 8 million dollars in repairs to Bradford Woods. Something about this stinks.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s