By the 2024-2025 school year, the College Station school district is projected to surpass 15,000 students, according to projections from Templeton Demographics.
Each November or December, College Station school board members receive a report from the Southlake-based company before using the data to determine facility needs and equity among the district’s schools. This year, Rocky Gardiner, school district consulting director for Templeton Demographics, presented that data during the school board’s Dec. 14 meeting – the last of 2021.
Following Gardiner’s report on projected enrollment and areas of growth in the district, Amy Drozd, chief financial officer for the district, presented a more detailed look at the data and its effects on 18 of the district’s 19 campuses. College View High School, as a choice high school, is not included in the report.
Drozd focused on capacity and projected enrollment among the schools and then the comparability of economically disadvantaged populations at the intermediate, middle and high schools.
The district reported an enrollment of 14,189 on the Texas Education Agency’s “snapshot” date in October, and an additional 20 students joined the district between October and December. The district is expected to have at least a 2% growth each year through the 2024-2025 school year when the projected enrollment is 15,310. In five years, Drozd said, the district could have 15,837 students.
She said the biggest note from the projection is that the district should expect to continue growing over the next five years.
Gardiner told the board most of the neighborhood developments in College Station – new or expanding – have or are expected to have a student yield of about 0.5, meaning 100 new homes could mean 50 new students in College Station schools.
Drozd recommended the district begin long-range facility planning in fall 2022 and spring 2023 to look at future facility needs throughout the district. She described the long-range planning as a roadmap for a future committee to use as a foundation when they start discussing more specific needs.
“Basically taking a very detailed look at what the district has and where they see it going in the next 5-10 years,” she told the board. “Not necessarily a specific bond at that point, and then later a bond planning committee would use that as their, probably, base data to begin looking at any specific future bond.”
In addition to the long-range facility planning, Drozd recommended the district monitor enrollment at Pebble Creek and Southwood Valley, the two largest elementary schools, and offer “discretionary transfers” from Pecan Trail Intermediate School to Cypress Grove Intermediate School and from Wellborn Middle School to College Station Middle School.
At the elementary level, she said, the district will need to watch enrollment at Pebble Creek and Southwood Valley closely as both are projected to reach 110% capacity in the next five years. Pebble Creek is expected to reach that threshold in the 2025-2026 school year and Southwood Valley the following year.
Both Pebble Creek and Southwood Valley, she said, are in areas that Templeton Demographics has identified as “high growth” areas.
On the other side of the enrollment analysis, Drozd showed board members that three elementary campuses will be below the 85% capacity threshold over the next five years: River Bend until the 2023-2024 school year, Forest Ridge until the 2024-2025 school year and Creek View through the 2026-2027 school year.
The recommended discretionary transfers are an effort to help balance the enrollment among the district’s intermediate and middle schools, allowing students zoned for the largest school at each level to transfer to the one with the lowest enrollment.
“We may be sitting here this time next year and the numbers look the same, and if that’s the case, then we need to start having other conversations,” College Station Superintendent Mike Martindale said. “But I think it’s well worth the effort.”
At the intermediate school level, none of the campuses are expected to exceed the 110% capacity limit; however, Cypress Grove and Oakwood campuses are projected to be below 85% capacity through the next five years. Both have a “noticeably” lower enrollment than Pecan Trail, which is not in danger of exceeding its capacity limits, Drozd said.
Pecan Trail and Oakwood also have the largest difference between comparable economically disadvantaged populations at 19.78%, which exceeds the 15% limit the district set.
At the middle schools, A&M Consolidated Middle School and College Station Middle School are both expected to be less than 85% capacity through the next five years, while Wellborn will be within the capacity limits during the same time. The comparability among the three schools also are above the 15% threshold.
While A&M Consolidated High School is expected to be in the capacity limits for the next five years, College Station High School is projected to reach the 110% threshold in 2023-2024. However, the projections show 63 students joining CSHS between the 2023-2024 and the 2026-2027 school years, which is growth the district can manage, Drozd said. The high school projections do not take into account additional students who may choose to attend College View High School for one of its programs, she said.
The two comprehensive high schools have a comparability of 3.38%, which is within the 12% requirement.
Board member Geralyn Nolan said the comparability between economically disadvantaged students in the intermediate and middle schools is concerning to her, saying she believes it has a “huge impact” on the schools, how they perform and the community in general.
Part of Gardiner’s report is a look at the district’s “newcomers” in first through 12th grades and “leavers” in kindergarten through 11th grade, noting it is assumed kindergartners are new to the district and high school seniors will graduate and leave. Newcomers are students who did not have an ID geotag for the previous school year, and leavers are students who had an ID geotag the previous year but not the next year.
During the 2020-2021 school year, which included virtual instruction, the district saw a loss of 385 students with the number of leavers increasing. An increase in newcomers in the 2021-2022 school year created a 223-student increase this year.
The next step, Gardiner said, will be to compare this year’s newcomers to see if any are returning to the district after leaving during the 2020-2021 school year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.