DALLAS — A Dallas School District enrollment projections report predicts the number of students will increase steadily over the next 10 years.
The study, completed in October 2018 by Cooperative Strategies of Hilliard, Ohio, used birth data, historical enrollment by grade data, Census data and building permits to come to its conclusion.
“The predictions presented in this report are meant to serve as a planning tool for the future, and represent the most likely direction of the district,” the executive summary stated.
Andy Bellando, Dallas interim superintendent, said at the Sept. 23 Dallas School Board meeting that the report identified the southwest area of the school district is projected to have the most growth over the next five years, and that building permits had been increasing through 2017, the last year included in the report.
He said the district should continue to monitor building permits from 2018 and thus far in 2019.
“It’s a variety of variables that go into what enrollment looks like. I think that it’s important we just keep that in mind as you look at this,” Bellando said. “I know when this organization completed the report, they made a very clear statement that they would take a look at all of that information, which results in some interesting outcomes.”
Bellando said the report projected the current dip in kindergarten enrollment. He said kindergarten classes have a total to 179 students. The report predicted 185 students, but also predicts an increase in future years. He said with more building permits issued in Dallas, the district’s enrollment slump may not be part of a trend.
“Places are being built and families are clearly moving in,” Bellando said. “With all that said, even though we are experiencing a slight drop in enrollment districtwide, my take on it at this point is that is a temporary drop. I really believe that it’s going ticking back up again.”
Cooperative Strategies provided four estimates: It’s recommendation, and low, moderate and high growth models. The district’s current enrollment is 2,867. The recommended project — the one the company deemed most likely — has the district growing to 3,250 by 2028-29.
The other three forecasts have growth ranging between 2,860 to 3,632.
Bellando said only the low estimate has the district enrollment flat. The rest show growth.
“Again, another point of optimism, because there are some school districts that would look at a study like this and the direction of that line would be going down,” he said.
He said the report can be used for facility planning and hiring for the district. Bellando recommended that the district continue to monitor enrollment closely, and discuss increasing the number of transfers Dallas brings in.
There are far more students leaving the district than transferring in, he said.
“While there’s a little bit of risk assumed with that, for a variety of reasons, one thing that it does do is it provides a buffer. And it provides a little bit of wiggle room within our control to be able to a little bit more accurately predict some increasing enrollment,” Bellando said. “I think it’s worth a little bit of conversation with you as a board about maybe how we encourage more transfers in, if that is something that you would support.”