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Board tries to predict future school enrollment

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Predicting the future is no easy feat. However, the city’s Board of Education recently attempted to get some insight into the hereafter during a special work session.

On Wednesday, the Germantown Municipal School District welcomed national demographer Jerome McKibben to the Board of Education Work Session to go over a recently completed study of the district.

McKibben, the senior demographer for McKibben Demographic Research, helped compile a study to forecast future enrollment and population numbers for Germantown’s six schools and the neighborhoods that serve them.

Early in his presentation he noted that the demographic forecast for the city’s schools was “spot on until COVID.”

“On average, school districts saw anywhere between a 3-to-9 percent drop in enrollment in 2020 due to COVID,” he noted.

He said that parents and teachers began to seek “other educational options” during this time, like private and charter schools and home schooling.

McKibben’s study takes into consideration several 10-year forecast assumptions like:

• The national, state or regional economy does not go into deep recession at anytime during the 10 years of the forecasts;
• Interest rates have reached a historic low and will not fluctuate more than one percentage point in the short term;
• The state of Tennessee does not change the current policy on open enrollment or school vouchers anytime in the next 10 years;
• The district will have at least an average of 650 existing home sales per year for the next 10 years;
• The average annual unemployment rates for Shelby County and the Memphis Metropolitan Area will remain below 7.5 percent for the 10 years of the forecasts.

While McKibben predicted that enrollment will increase slightly in Germantown’s four elementary schools over the next decade (from 2,624 to 2,664), he anticipated that the neighborhoods serving these schools would decrease.

Riverdale’s population change was the highest at -3.6 percent, representing a drop from 12,190 residents in 2020 to 11,750 in 2030.

Dogwood’s was second at -3.1 percent, which represents a population drop from 9,970 to 9,660.

He predicted that middle school enrollment will increase from 1,284 in 2021-22 to 1,423 in 2030-31 but that high school enrollment would fall from 1,984 to 1,861 during that same period of time.

Enrollment at the elementary schools from 2021-22 to 2030-31 was predicted to:
• Dogwood – Increase from 629 to 659
• Farmington – Increase from 590 to 618
• Forest Hill – Increase from 647 to 675
• Riverdale – Decrease from 1,166 to 1,104

Houston Middle’s enrollment was expected to rocket from 876 to 1,031.

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