More students coming
Published 6:09 pm Tuesday, May 22, 2018
900 from already-approved projects alone
By Elizabeth Pattman
Nearly 900 additional students will be entering the Isle of Wight School District when already-approved residential developments are completed, mostly in the northern end of the county.
That’s the finding of a new study commissioned by the school division. The results of the Cooperative Strategies study were presented to the School Board on May 10.
While estimates based on a 2012 study had predicted an influx of students, more recent results show that growth will likely be greater than previously thought and could come sooner than expected.
In March, Cooperative Strategies was commissioned to begin the “Student Yield and Subdivision Analysis,” after a dispute over numbers when it came to approving more houses in Benn’s Grant earlier this year.
The study examined a number of factors, including current student enrollment, current students’ residence type and location, attendance boundaries across the county, as well as the county’s history of development.
By April, when the study was completed, Cooperative Strategies found there are 2,743 housing units planned in 14 different developments, mostly on the northern end of the county, with 139 of those units have already been completed. Of those planned, 1,842 of the units will be single-family homes, while 762 will be multi-family.
With single family homes averaging 0.368 students per unit, town homes averaging 0.23 students per unit, mobile homes averaging 0.363 students and apartments yielding the most students at 0.388 per unit, the division should expect to see an additional 899 students entering the school division following completion of all the already approved developments, according to the study.
Cooperative Strategies estimates that 413 students will enter pre-K through fifth grade, while 194 students will enter at the middle school level and 292 will enter at the high school level.
In 2012, the county had commissioned a similar student yield study, which resulted in predictions of fewer students entering the division than the newest study suggests. These older predictions were already being surpassed, according to School Board Chairwoman Vicky Hulick at the March School Board meeting.
The influx of nearly 900 new students will be gradual. The Cooperative Strategies study also indicated an expected timeline for when these students would enter the division, according to Superintendent Dr. Jim Thornton’s presentation of the study results at the May 10 School Board meeting.
Thornton said 306 students will be entering the division in the next four to five years as some of the developments that have already begun construction are completed.
The previous study, discussed in a March presentation by Amy Ring, director of planning and zoning for the county, predicted that 279 students would be entering Isle of Wight schools following the completion of the four housing developments that are already under construction.
Following that first wave, more developments will continue to be completed. Cooperative Strategies predicts that it will take about 11 to 12 years for all 899 new students to enter the school system, based on how long previous developments have taken to complete, according to Thornton. Thornton did say, however, that if the pace of development exceeds that of the past, the influx of students could come as soon as eight to 10 years down the line.
The Cooperative Strategies study will be presented to the county as well as planning commissions in Smithfield and Windsor. It will also be used by the Facilities Planning Committee, which will present long-range plans for the school division at two community meetings set for May 29 at Westside Elementary and May 31 at Windsor High, both at 6 p.m.