Student Enrollment and Diversity: A Balancing Act
Client: Tacoma Public Schools
Location: Tacoma, Washington
Redrawing school attendance boundaries can be stressful for school district leaders—not only do they have to make the best possible decisions about current school capacities and student-teacher ratios, but they also must ensure that they’re anticipating future needs.
Tacoma School District has close to 30,000 current students and a diverse demographic base. Maintaining socioeconomic diversity among schools while still balancing attendance at individual schools was one of the district’s central concerns in working with us to update elementary and middle school boundaries. We helped the district achieve their goals by guiding them through our five-step boundary review process, which uses detailed enrollment projections for each school attendance area and a consensus-based approach. (For an in-depth look at how we use data and community consensus building to update school boundaries, click here.)
To support the boundary review committee, we retrieved data from the District’s Student Information System (SIS), which includes data on race/ethnicity, free/reduced lunch participation, special education, and other key variables for each school and grade level. We incorporated the SIS information, and our enrollment projections, into our interactive K-12 GeoPlanner, a Web-based mapping tool that allows the boundary review committee to model different boundary scenarios on the fly.
The tool empowered committee members to ask and then answer questions about the effects that a particular boundary scenario may have on student demographics and school capacities in real time. We were pleased to learn from the committee that the interactive mapping tools were central to the success of the district’s boundary review process.
Watch the video below to see our K-12 GeoPlanner in action.*
“Having no idea how to provide visual data displays of our student enrollment counts, we found that FLO Analytics’ ability to produce quick, easy and interactive GIS boundary maps allowed the team to make immediate, data driven decisions with absolute confidence and a deep understanding of the impacts.” —Rosalind Medina, Tacoma Public Schools CFO
* The data used in this video are drawn from multiple school districts and are for demonstration purposes only. They do not accurately portray enrollment information for any geography.