Enrollment study shows R-3 is full

At its monthly meeting last week in Platte City, the Platte County School District Board of Education heard an enrollment projection report from RSP, a professional educational consulting/planning firm with clients in seven states across the Midwest. What the Board heard was similar to what it has been hearing the past few years from other sources, such as the District’s administration and architectural planning firm: Platte County R-3’s enrollment is growing and most of the District’s facilities are either at capacity or over it.

“The data provided by RSP illustrates, in essence, that we are at or exceeding capacity in most of our schools and will continue to experience enrollment growth in the next five years,” R-3 Superintendent Dr. Mike Reik said. “This is important information that District leadership must consider.”

It is information that the Board will likely consider as it mulls placing a revamped tax levy increase question on the ballot in 2014, that, if approved by voters, would fund construction of what District officials say is a much-needed new elementary school in Platte City. A 61-cent increase was shot down at the polls in April 2012. As reported earlier this year by The Citizen, District officials, with input from a Citizens Advisory Committee, have suggested new proposal calling for a 58-cent increase, with a sunset —expiration date — that was not included in the first proposal. The Board will likely make a decision soon if it wishes to place the issue on the April ballot — the deadline for doing so is shortly after the first of the year.

RSP spokesperson Grady Morrison gave a PowerPoint presentation to the Board last week, using a customized Student Forecast Model (SFM) to project future student enrollment for the next five years. Morrison said variables that are integrated into the model include historical enrollment data, birth data, development activity, demographic trends, facility capacity and other data sets unique to the District that assist in generating accurate projections. Morrison said there are three key conclusions.

First, the District’s enrollment, currently at 3,844 for the 2013-14 school year, is expected to see a 14.8-percent increase to approximately 4,300 students by the 2017-18 school year, or about 100-130 students per year. The increase will be seen the most at the high school level — 25.4-percent — where current lower grades are larger than high school classes. Middle school enrollment is projected to increase by 13.7-percent and elementary enrollment is projected to increase by 9.8-percent.