PCSD enrollment count doesn’t meet projections
The annual enrollment data for the seven schools in the Park City School District are in, and the numbers aren’t quite what the district expected.
According to the student head count taken Oct. 1, the three secondary schools in the district came in about even with projections, while students didn’t fill the four elementary schools as anticipated. Overall, the district came in 3 percent below its expected mark.
Parley’s Park Elementary saw the largest discrepancy, coming in 51 students under projections. McPolin Elementary came in 40 students below, while Trailside Elementary and Jeremy Ranch Elementary were low by 32 and 24 students, respectively. Diving further into the data, the differences were mostly due to lower-than-expected enrollment in kindergarten and first grades.
Todd Hauber, business administrator for the district, said he was surprised by the enrollment numbers and doesn’t yet have a solid explanation for why they fell short of projections.
"At this point, I haven’t figured it out," he said. "I can’t put my finger on it to figure out what happened. I’ve heard different talk, but none of it pans out or is very logical. So the next area to look at is whether development is coming on as projected. And I’m going through that process now and also checking in with Realtors to see what types of families are indeed moving into the houses that are being built."
The enrollment data was released two weeks before residents are set to vote on the district’s controversial $56 million bond that would fund an expansive list of projects designed to, in part, deal with enrollment growth. Entering the year, the district had grown by about 600 students since 2006, with five schools reaching capacity, and the master plan forecasted about 2 percent annual growth over the next five to six years.
Opponents of the bond have used the Oct. 1 head count to question the necessity of spending $56 million to head off enrollment growth issues. Ali Ziesler, a leader of the anti-bond group Citizens for Better Education, acknowledged in an Oct. 20 public hearing that more students may, in fact, come but said it’s foolhardy to spend so much money based on projections that may not be accurate.
But Hauber said this year’s results don’t change the five- to six-year enrollment projections used in the master-planning process. While the district’s public information campaign for the bond has stated growth will come annually at an average of 2 percent for the sake of simplicity, the projections don’t actually drill down into yearly numbers.
"To try to smooth that across the (five- to six-year) period is really guesswork," Hauber said. "So in our case, will those 400 new students show up in Year 1, Year 3, Year 5? Or will they not show up until Year 6? There wasn’t an effort to try to time it and figure that out. So Year 1 didn’t come with all of the growth or one-fifth of the growth. But we weren’t trying to figure that out, either. We were looking at, ‘What will this be five or six years from now?’ I can see every year from now until then being all over the map. There could be low years and really high years."
Hauber did acknowledge, however, that projections are just that — projections. They are based largely off historical trends and imperfect data, but it’s the best information currently possible off of which to base decisions, he said.
"If we get to Year 2 or Year 3 and the numbers just aren’t showing up, and we’re left with some just unrealistic amount of students to show up in the last two or three years, then you do have to revise things," he said. "That’s just being conscious about what you’re doing. But Year 1 is way too early to say, ‘Oh, we’re off.’ You’ve got to have
2015 Enrollment Data
Courtesy of the Park City School District
Change from 2014
The school is one of 17 bands and choirs from the U.S. selected to perform during the memorial parade.