Report includes enrollment projections and recommendations
The Superintendent presented an annual update to the School Board at the Jan. 24 meeting. This first update focused on providing overview of enrollment projections and operational adjustments to prepare for the 2019-20 school year.
Annual Update Highlights included the following:
- APS enrollment will continue to grow and is expected to increase by 24% by 2028. At the elementary level (K-5), enrollment growth is expected to be 21%, which is higher than last year’s projection. This works out to just over 1,000 more students.
- At the middle and high school level, enrollment growth is expected to be 19% and 35% respectively which is slightly lower than last year’s projections.
- An increase of more than 1,000 K-5 students could have implications for the upcoming FY 2020-29 CIP (Capital Improvement Plan) regarding the need and timing of future seats. It’s important to note that the most recent APS Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) addresses the growth in the first few years with the September 2019 opening of Fleet Elementary School, the Heights Building, the addition and opening of the sixth middle school at Dorothy Hamm, as well as internal modifications to the Career Center, the expansion of the Arlington Tech program, moving Montessori from Drew to the current Henry site, and designating Drew as a full neighborhood school. In 2021, additional seats will be added at the Reed Building and the repurposed Education Center. The CIP has earmarked planning and design funds for field, parking garage, and 800 high school seats at the Career Center and more elementary seats for 2029.
Adjustments to Prepare for Enrollment in the 2019-20 School Year
- New elementary and middle school boundaries will take effect starting in the fall.
- Based on projections, there will be no elementary school neighborhood transfers for the 2019-20 school year.
- The availability of transfers at middle school has shifted as we prepare for new boundaries. Gunston, Jefferson, Kenmore and Swanson will have limited transfers with priority given to Grade 7 students impacted by the boundary change who applied to remain at their current school.
- With the expansion of some elementary school boundaries during the Fall 2018 boundary process, PreK classes will be moved to schools that now have capacity, and closer to where families live.
- In preparation for the boundary processes for the Sept. 2021 opening of Reed and the additional seats at W-L, APS will evaluate alignment of every planning unit for elementary, middle and high school. Steps will be put in place to make adjustments within the next boundary process, when there are small groups of students who are separated from their classmates when moving between school levels.
- Staff shared that there is more current information shaping next steps on the swap.
- Elementary enrollment shows a different trend. The Feb. 12 work session on the PreK-Grade 12 Instructional Program Pathways will define APS options, and APS is currently gathering data for the evaluation of World Languages and ESOL/HILT which may inform this work.
- APS is committed to sustaining and potentially growing Spanish Immersion, while adhering to the successful instructional model based on the 50/50 student balance of native Spanish speakers with speakers of English and other languages.
- APS will reevaluate where the immersion program can grow, either at ASFS or other locations, while providing equitable access for all students in the immersion option. This work will take place between April and December, and the process will be shaped over the coming week. Any recommendation must be made by December, so it can be factored into the 2020 boundary process.
Caution about Changeability in Projections and the Resulting Impact on Planning
Staff and Board members noted that the APS budget and operations decisions are based on the best information available at the time. Staff and community members are reminded that funding forecasts from Arlington County and the state may change, based on many external factors. Similarly, student enrollment and projections are based on the best available information at the time, but are also subject to change due to employment, housing and other economic factors. For these reasons, APS and the Arlington School Board may adjust future budget allocations, staffing and other operations decisions to reflect the existing community and operating landscape.