Enrollment and Capacity Analysis
Enrollment Forecast Analysis Report
As the District moves forward with the master planning and implementation process, it is important to continue to monitor enrollment and capacity and to place all of this information into one document to develop more consistency in how it is recorded and shared. To reach this goal, we developed a chart including our overall projections broken down by school, by grade level and by north and south regions. Also included in the break down are Georgia Department of Education and City Schools of Decatur capacity numbers.
It is important to note that enrollment projections represent the District’s estimates of counts of students to be expected in the future. While we put a tremendous amount of work and science into these calculations, projecting enrollments is part art and part science and there are many variables that can affect these numbers throughout time. We look at these numbers regularly to identify trends and approximate enrollment numbers.
How to read the Report:
a. The eight columns of data in the table each represent information for one school year, between 2013-14 and 2020-21. This is correlated with the beginning of our current master plan that is intended to take us through the next 5-8 years.
b. The table is grouped by school, with each school having rows for enrollment (actual enrollment for 2013-14 through 2015-16 and projected enrollment for 2016-17 through 2020-21), capacity (low and high) as calculated by the Georgia Department of Education, capacity as calculated by City Schools of Decatur, temporary capacity (i.e., modular classrooms), the excess or deficit in capacity in terms of number of seats difference between the sum of CSD capacity and temporary capacity and the actual or projected enrollment that year, and the excess or deficit in terms of number of classrooms. Additionally, each school in the K-5 grade band has a column indicating the number of homerooms in operation this year.
c. For planning purposes, subtotals are provided for the elementary schools north of the railroad tracks and for those south of the tracks. Additionally, K-12 totals are provided at the end of the table.
d. As additional instructional spaces are added or removed, capacity will change accordingly. For instance, the phase 1 addition at DHS increases the capacity in 2016-17 and the phase 2/3 addition at DHS increases the capacity in 2017-18. Similarly, as modular classrooms are added or removed the temporary capacities are adjusted accordingly. These changes in capacity are highlighted in the table.
What is capacity?
a. Capacity is a value representing the number of seats available for students in a given school. Calculating capacity is as much art as it is science, because many factors affect how any given space can be used. Those factors include the number of students who actually enroll at a given grade level, the details of the scheduling of specials (elementary) and courses (secondary), and the sufficiency of common spaces available (such as cafeterias and libraries).
What is the difference between how the Georgia Department of Education calculates capacity and how City Schools of Decatur calculates capacity?
a. The Georgia Department of Education has a method of computing capacity that includes all instructional units that are used in the building. An instructional unit (IU) is generally any space that is used for instruction. This includes spaces such as general classrooms, Career Technology Labs, Physical Education Spaces, Media Center, and Drama Practice Rooms. The DOE reports a range of IUs related to a range in the number of students enrolled in a school. It is important that we consider these numbers as we are planning and building. For initial planning purposes, the District used the “permanent low capacity” calculations from the GaDOE.
b. In order to better reflect how CSD actually uses our facilities, the District calculates capacities somewhat differently from the GaDOE method. Information regarding the specific standards used is presented in the pink table (page 2) following the primary table. The CSD method involves counting the number of instructional spaces available (see “Notes” in the pink table on page 2), multiplying that count by a room capacity standard, then multiplying that by a utilization factor. The utilization factor takes into account complexities such as scheduling, as described previously.
c. Temporary capacity is calculated the same as permanent capacity, but is presented separately in the primary table since the ultimate goal of any facilities plan is to remove temporary facilities.
What is enrollment?
a. Enrollment reflects that actual count of students present. For purposes of this table, the enrollment presented is the official October FTE (Full Time Equivalent) count.
b. For years in the future, enrollment projections are presented. Enrollment projections represent the District’s estimates of counts of students to be expected in the future. Much like capacity, projecting enrollments is part art and part science. The enrollment projections presented in this table are based on previous projections provided by Sizemore Group, with some important changes.
i. First, the projections the District previously requested were projections by grade. For the 4/5 Academy, Renfroe MS, and Decatur HS, these also represent individual school projections. However, at the K-3 level, the District has multiple buildings so grade-level projections represent students who are in reality distributed across five elementary schools. In order to approximate K-3 school projections without a full enrollment study, school level K-3 projections were estimated based on the 2015-16 enrollment present at each school.
ii. Second, the original enrollment projections indicated a significant “dip” in kindergarten enrollment in the 2016-17 school year (see blue chart on page 2). This is an artifact of the methods used in calculating projections. Due to the methods used in enrollment projections, changes to kindergarten projections “cascade” into future grades. After significant discussion among all District administrators, it was decided that the kindergarten projections should be adjusted in order to more accurately reflect the count of students expected based on the unique circumstances in Decatur. To make this adjustment, kindergarten projections were estimated using the linear trend from previous years, then tempered using the original kindergarten projections. This change results in an increase of 65 more kindergarten students by 2020-21 and 278 more K-12 students by 2020-21. Information related to the change to kindergarten projections is provided in the blue table (page 2) following the primary table.
Why do some schools look like they have open classroom space when in fact they do not?
a. Schools may dedicate classroom space for special education purposes depending on the number of students/specialized classes and services needed. The number of classrooms may change year-to-year depending on the number of students requiring services.
Why did we set the number of modulars to zero in 2020-21? a. Temporary space is intended to be just that. Long-term facilities plans should plan for permanent space. Our goal is to eliminate the need for any temporary classrooms in the district. We set modular counts to zero in the end because we wanted to see how our efforts toward permanent classroom space would affect capacity vs. enrollment by the end of our current master planning projects. If modulars are still needed in 2020-21, the units will remain in place until permanent space can be provided.
What does this mean for CSD? Will facility plans change?
a. Facility plans are always evolving to meet our needs. It has always been our stated intention to develop and implement the master plan in phases to allow the district to react to any changes we experience over time. Since it is so difficult to predict the future it is critical that we allow ourselves flexibility to make changes as we evolve.