Robust Enrollment Forecasting and Boundary Committee Process Enhances A Boundary Adjustment Project
Client: North Clackamas School District
Location: Milwaukie, Oregon
About the Project
North Clackamas School District (NCSD) was experiencing significant student enrollment growth in a particularly fast-growing area of Clackamas County. This—in addition to a new elementary and high school and the modification of an existing high school campus into a new middle school—required a boundary review for all district elementary, middle, and high schools to optimize school capacities. After an extensive boundary review process, the NCSD Board of Directors approved new boundaries for elementary, middle, and high school attendance areas on June 28, 2019, and NCSD is now prepared to meet the future needs of its student body and community. Read our announcement about the news.
Meet the Client
NCSD, just 7 miles from downtown Portland, is the seventh-largest district in Oregon, serving around 17,200 students.
Key Project Solutions
A Community-Focused Approach
Boundary reviews, which bring up complex issues such as neighborhood cohesion, educational equity, and property values, are often inherently contentious. To mitigate such tension as much as possible, FLO’s work with NCSD emphasized developing a strong community engagement and communications plan to ensure that NCSD’s boundary review would actively engage the community throughout the boundary review process, helping the community understand each step of the process and feel included in the decision-making. FLO also evaluated the viability of using broad community-engagement tools, conducted comprehensive feedback-gathering phone surveys of NCSD families, and identified other useful mechanisms for community feedback throughout the boundary review process.
Boundary Review Committee Facilitation
FLO also provided comprehensive facilitation services at boundary review committee meetings where selected community members assessed and reworked boundary scenarios. FLO also developed customized web-based mapping applications (a boundary review progress web map and “find my school” application) to illustrate and communicate the boundary review committee’s progress to the community throughout the review process and post- board acceptance. Additionally, we were able to identify affected students to support the NCSD in their three-year implementation and will be maintaining the web-based mapping resources as new boundaries are rolled out.
Watch NCSD’s Boundary Realignment project video to experience the challenging and detailed work that went into each boundary review committee meeting, facilitated by the FLO team, during a boundary update.
“Earlier today, we tied up an enrollment projections project for NCSD. I am thankful for the partnership and appreciated working with the FLO Analytics team. They were easy to work with, collaborative (even when they were talking about kind of heavy-data processes), and the presentation they made to our Executive Team was well received. I would like to ensure that NCSD is in the queue for annual enrollment forecasts moving forward.”
- Tiffany Shireman, NCSD Chief of Staff
Student Enrollment Forecasting
With the attendance area boundaries approved, NCSD turned its attention to accommodating future student enrollment at each school and within special programs offered at schools throughout the district. Building on our analysis of current enrollment from the boundary review process, FLO analyzed historical enrollment trends to better understand patterns of student attendance. NCSD staff participated in face-to-face meetings with FLO to pore over the details of program placement and transfer policies, both of which influence the forecasting of student populations. We then conducted demographic and land use analyses to better understand the components of population change (e.g., births, deaths, migration) that would be used in our forecasting models for NCSD. The land use analyses included interviews with local county and city planners to assess where residential growth (or decline) was occurring in the district, as well as the expected number of housing units and the timelines for construction.
FLO used several projection methods (e.g., cohort-component model, housing unit method, cohort survival method) to prepare annual enrollment forecasts for NCSD, which were reported at various levels of geography and from different perspectives of enrollment. For instance, the residence-based forecasts provide the number of students, by individual grade and grade group, who will be residing in each of NCSD’s elementary, middle, and high school attendance areas—a type of forecast helpful for understanding enrollment for neighborhood schools. FLO also prepared building/program attendance forecasts, which provide the number of students, again, by individual grade and grade group, who will actually be attending district schools and programs—a type of forecast that accounts for program placement and transfer policies.
Throughout this collaborative process, FLO and NCSD staff met to review preliminary results and make adjustments based on plans for future programs and policy revisions. The NCSD was provided with a detailed report of the results, including relevant tables, graphs, and maps that facilitated a full understanding of the forecasts. Lastly, FLO presented the results to the NCSD ‘s executive team so that staff could ask pertinent questions and began utilizing the forecasts for planning purposes.
“Forecasting student enrollment for a dynamic district—one that’s growing rapidly and adding new schools—can be a challenge. FLO demographers need to understand not only the population and land use trends, but also the NCSD programs and policies that influence enrollment. Thankfully, the North Clackamas team understood these complexities and provided us with all the necessary data, as well as, during face-to-face meetings, detailed explanations of the NCSD’s program placement and transfer policies. It was truly a pleasure working with NCSD staff during these meetings, because it was obvious that they cared. These interactions were vital to providing the NCSD with the most accurate forecasts possible.”
Alex Brasch, FLO Population Geographer & Data Analyst
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