Schools enrollment projected to rise

Schools enrollment projected to rise

Michele Ellson
Alameda schools

Alameda’s public schools could be educating about 1,000 more students a decade from now – many of them in West End and mid-Island schools.

The forecast growth is detailed in a new demographic study commissioned to support the school district’s effort to draft a facilities plan to meet students’ needs now and in the future. The report was presented to the Board of Education on Tuesday.

Authors of the 80-page study, the district’s first detailed demographic forecast since 2009, determined that enrollment growth would come as a result of new transitional kindergarten and middle school programs – and hundreds of new homes planned and proposed to be built in the West End and on Alameda’s Northern Waterfront.

Construction of 276 homes in the Alameda Landing development is expected to commence this fall, while the Chipman warehouse on Buena Vista Avenue is being torn down in preparation for the development of 89 more homes. As many as 414 new lofts, townhomes and flats have been proposed to be built in and around the Del Monte warehouse next door.

Another 182 homes have been approved for the Boatworks project on Clement Street, though that project is being retooled, and 32 more have been proposed for a former glass factory on Oak Street. And as many as 1,425 new homes could be built at Alameda Point over the next few decades.

Most of those new students would live in the Henry Haight and Ruby Bridges elementary school attendance zones, and all of them would have Will C. Wood – which is being restructured as a school with a science, technology, engineering, art and math focus – as their primary middle school choice.

This year, the district launched its transitional kindergarten program for young 5-year-olds and the new Junior Jets magnet middle school on the Encinal High School campus. The district also completed a planned expansion of Bay Farm school through eighth grade.

Even with all the new families in its attendance zone, though, the demographic study projects a gain of just 41 students at Wood over the next decade, while the Junior Jets program is projected to double in size from its current enrollment of 184 students to 369. Bay Farm’s enrollment would increase from 561 students to 678, though it’s not clear how much of a role its middle school program will play.

All told, the forecast projects the district will be educating an additional 461 grade schoolers, 230 middle schoolers and 378 high schoolers by the 2023-24 school year, when the district will enroll a projected 10,495 students.

The district’s enrollment grew between 1993 and 2000 and stabilized over the next three years, dropping between 2005 and 2010. It’s been on the rise since then.

Over the past decade, Otis, Edison and Ruby Bridges elementary schools saw their enrollment rise by more than 25 percent, with Otis’s jumping by 38.2 percent. Wood, Bay Farm and Paden saw the biggest declines, with Wood’s enrollment dropping by 46.4 percent, Bay Farm’s by 25.3 percent and Paden’s by 12.7 percent.

Some 4.6 percent of the district’s enrollment – 431 students – transfer in from other districts, the report shows, the lowest number in a decade.

The report was one of several items on the school board’s agenda Tuesday related to schools leaders’ effort to draft a facilities program and to place a bond to pay for it on the November ballot.

The board also received a brief report on a proposed structure for a bond, which the board could vote in June to place on the fall ballot. The district can ask property owners to pay $60 per $100,000 of the assessed value of their property for each bond issue voters approve up to a cap of 2.5 percent of the total value of all the property in Alameda. Property owners are just beginning to make the major payments on 2004’s Measure C bond, which was $63 million.

The total assessed value of property in Alameda is close to $10 billion. And school districts can seek waivers for the 2.5 percent cap from the state. A financial advisor is slated to provide more detail on how a bond or bonds may be structured at the board’s April 29 meeting.

The board also signed off on legal and financial advisor services for the bond measure on 4-1 votes, with member Trish Herrera Spencer casting the no votes. Spencer questioned the makeup of the selection committee for both services and the cost of the financial advisor.

Outreach meetings where community members can offer their thoughts on a draft facilities plan are taking place on April 21 at Alameda High School, 2201 Encinal Avenue; April 24 at Encinal High School, 210 Central Avenue; and on April 30 at Donald D. Lum Elementary School, 1801 Sandcreek Way. All three meetings will take place from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Comments

Submitted by Former teacher (not verified) on Wed, Apr 9, 2014

I typically support schools, parks and libraries, but I'd be tempted to vote against a bond here if the developers don't pay their fair share. Being new to town, I'd have to look into the last bond and see what was done with the money and what two bonds will cost me. I know I came from a district that spent bond money in ways that I cannot afford. Lots of wasted money and odd ways of determining where it went. Can you say alphabetical order, Hayward?