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Latest demographic study supports significant enrollment growth projections in North Colonie Schools

| March 26, 2018

Since the 2015-16 school year, increased enrollment has been a significant challenge facing North Colonie, specifically in the district’s six elementary schools. According to demographic studies completed in February 2016 and again in December 2017, the district’s continued enrollment growth over the next 10 years will be driven primarily by:

  • The increase in empty nesters downsizing and selling homes to new/growing families
  • New construction and developments
  • The number of young families moving into the district

During a March 1 Board of Education presentation, Dr. Jerome McKibben of McKibben Demographic Research discussed the change in enrollment forecasts between the two reports. His original Feb. 2016 forecast projected an increase of 939 students over a period of ten years. The latest forecast, completed in Dec. 2017, showed an increase of 517 students over a period of ten years. Dr. McKibben explained that while the forecasted growth has lessened some, growth is still significant.

”One of the major reasons for a slow in the forecasted growth this past year was a temporary drop in existing home sales, largely due to the shortage of elder housing in the area,” he explained.  “The growth may be stronger one year, and weaker another year, but existing home sales will become the dominant factor affecting enrollment change in the district because of the strength and reputation of North Colonie schools. When homes go on the market, they are quick to sell.”

The district was prompted to hire Dr. McKibben to complete another demographic forecast this past December when internal enrollment projections completed by North Colonie’s Business Manager Steve Zautner were higher than normal.

Zautner’s November 2017 projections showed enrollment increasing by 1,427 students over a period of ten years, even higher than the original 939 in the first demographic forecast. The following chart compares the numbers:

2015-2016 (actual) 2025-2026 Increase
Feb. 2016
McKibben Demographic Research
5,511 students 6,450 students Increase of 939 students
Nov. 2017
North Colonie internal enrollment projections
5,511 students 6,938 students Increase of 1,427 students
Dec. 2017
McKibben Demographic Research
5,511 students 6,028 students Increase of 517 students

“After the internal enrollment projections, we questioned whether we’d have enough room to house all of our students, even with the approved expansions,” said Superintendent Joseph Corr. “We have already taken away multi-purpose rooms and computer labs. We are already operating at district maximums in many of our elementary classrooms.”

Dr. McKibben explained that the second demographic forecast took into account the existing and new home sales, interest rates, foreclosures, and mortgage approvals. The district’s internal projections are a trend analysis based on an average of the past three years. 

“In North Colonie, you’re not just building for future growth, you’re building to catch up to where you need to be, to house the continued growth,” said McKibben.

 “While this latest demographic study does indicate slower growth than the previous one, our elementary schools remain crowded,” said Corr. “We also need to consider the ways in which we educate students now—you can’t use the same formula and logic for how we educated children 30 years ago. I’m very confident with the direction we are taking here.”

The district plans to continue monitoring the enrollment forecasts on a yearly basis.

Category: District News

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