The weather was bad and only two parents showed up, but Central Valley School District Superintendent Ben Small stopped by Bowdish Middle School on Wednesday to discuss increasing enrollment and future facilities needs.
“The Central Valley School District is a growing school district and will continue to grow in the future,” Small said.
Small presented a study from Henderson, Young & Co. to better predict enrollment numbers in the coming years, the same study he presented to the school board in November. He said that in the past, the district usually looked back five years to see future enrollment trends. But five years ago, enrollment had leveled out and even dipped in some schools because of the recession.
During the 2012-13 school year, enrollment started to take off again, with an almost 3 percent rise in fulltime enrolled students.
“Enrollment drives revenue and programs,” Small explained.
The study estimates that in five years there will be 902 more students in Central Valley schools. In 2017-18, Small said, the likely enrollment at the high school level will be 4,020 full-time enrolled students. University and Central Valley high schools each have about 1,480 students now.
“A third high school is something we have to take a look at,” Small said.
The district does have a plan for a third high school at 16th Avenue and Henry Street, near the Saltese Flats. Small explained that if the district were to open a new high school in 2021, the district would need to pass a bond in 2018.
Small also said he foresees the district running a bond before then – as soon as February 2015 – to help alleviate crowding and update buildings at the elementary and middle school levels.
Full-day kindergarten and class-size reduction in kindergarten through the third grade have increased the number of students and reduced the number of classrooms. The district offers full-day kindergarten at six of its elementary schools and needs to have the program implemented districtwide by 2018.
Small said the district capital facilities committee is working on a plan to put before the voters and he doesn’t expect the bond to increase tax rates for property holders. The district’s current construction bonds should be paid off by the time the new bond would begin.
The superintendent plans to give this presentation at other schools in the coming months.