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Demographic research is a valuable tool when school districts need to make important decisions, such as whether to build or close a school, to change attendance boundaries, or to propose a bond measure. In addition, many clients use our enrollment forecasts for planning annual budgets and staffing.

School Enrollment Forecasts
We use standard demographic techniques (the cohort survival method) when forecasting school enrollments.  We “age” existing students one grade for each forecast year, adjusting for migration into and out of the district, new kindergarten classes, and new housing (if necessary).  We base our forecasts on these factors:

  • historical grade progression patterns (which reflect migration of students into and out of the district as well as housing turnover)
  • births to district residents, and county birth trends
  • the relationship of kindergarten enrollments to resident births five years earlier
  • inter-district transfers
  • expected housing growth
  • student ethnic mix
  • private school enrollments.

Using the most recent birth data, we forecast elementary enrollments four years, middle school enrollments nine years, and high school enrollments thirteen years into the future.  We can provide forecasts beyond these periods, but they are less certain because the potential students have not yet been born.

We provide a range of enrollment forecasts (such as Low, Medium, and High forecasts) to indicate the level of uncertainty in the forecast and the range within which future enrollments are likely to fall.

Districts expecting significant housing growth and districts with unusual populations (such as a military base or student housing) need special adjustments to the cohort survival method for forecasting enrollments. 

Student Yield Analyses vs. Housing Turnover Studies
To help understand a school district’s demographic dynamics, we conduct student yield studies and housing turnover studies. Student yields are a measure of the average number of students per housing unit. Student yields vary by factors such as age of housing, type and size of housing, and the school district’s reputation. These studies are particularly useful when estimating the impact of new housing on a district’s facilities. On the other hand, housing turnover studies are most useful for analyzing changes in older neighborhoods. Districts with a large share of older housing are affected by the home resale market, remodeling, and construction of additions.

Computer Mapping
We use Geographic Information Systems software for computer mapping to produce school-specific forecasts and analyses of inter- and intra-district transfers. This is necessary for analyzing which school to close or where to build a new school. We have used GIS software since the early 1990s and are experts in its applications for school research.

(Click on thumbnail for full size map in pdf format.)

Sample Boundary Map
Cupertino, CA, Middle School
Attendance Boundary Plan

 


Sample Information Map
San Mateo Union High School District, CA
Students by Income Level

 


Sample Map
San Jose Unified School District, CA
Private Enrollment Rates


 
 


Devising New Attendance Boundaries

When facilities changes are needed – either the opening or closing of a school –attendance boundary realignments are usually necessary. We use our flexible GIS software to geocode (electronically “pin map”) students’ home addresses on an electronic map of the school district. Once students are geocoded, it is relatively simple to experiment with alternative attendance boundaries. New attendance boundaries can be drawn easily, and the computer automatically generates the number of students by grade (and other characteristics) in each new area. Our GIS software is flexible; there are no restrictions on the size or number of areas to be constructed, and data are produced that make it simple to evaluate large numbers of possible scenarios.

We help school districts devise new attendance boundaries. We assist with developing criteria and measures for evaluating possible boundary realignment scenarios. Criteria often include balancing enrollments among schools, maximizing student safety, keeping neighborhoods within one attendance area, maximizing the number of students who stay together as they move from elementary to middle to high school, and minimizing walking distance to schools. After criteria are specified, LGDR can provide a variety of attendance area scenarios. Our GIS software produces high-quality maps that show attendance area boundaries.

School District Projects

San Francisco Unified School District Oakland Unified School District
Castro Valley Unified School District Palo Alto Unified School District
Cupertino Union School District Salinas Union High School District
Los Altos School District San Leandro Unified School District
Orinda Union School District New Haven Unified School District
San Mateo Union High School District San Lorenzo Valley Unified School District
Belmont-Redwood Shores School District

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