What is the capacity of the proposed high school replacement?

We have reviewed the school capacity information provided by Chris Lilley, McGranahan Architect, and have also discussed this matter with him, personally.  Here's what we found out:

  1. The proposed school replaces all of the existing teaching stations, whether presently used or not.
  2. Based on our current SHS enrollment of 1200 students, the school would be at 58% capacity.
  3. Normal high school capacities max out at approximately 83%.
  4. At 83% efficiency, the proposed school would have room for approximately 1700 students.
  5. At full capacity of 1700, all teaching stations would be utilized and class sizes would be at the recommended maximum.  

Enrollment projections indicate that grades 9-12 will remain at or near current levels through 2029-30.  During this period, regular high school enrollment (not including LHHS or Saratoga) ranges from a high of 1257 to a low of 1134).  The assumptions include a 2.54% growth in the birth rates and that the district will enroll 8.02% of those births, which is the 3-year average rate.  This projection results in a growth rate of about 53 students in grades K-12 per year.  

At this time, the 2015 birth information is not available, but it would be helpful to see if the projected births are close to the actual numbers.  I should be able to get that info from the Dept. of Health in January.

The difficult factor to predict is the impact of in-migration. Historically, new homes in the district generate about .6 FTE K-12 students per each new home.  At the high school level (grades 9-12) the rate is .180 FTE per new home. That means it takes at least 5 new homes to generate one student in grades 9 through 12.   Based on the student generation rate data, it would take 2,777 new homes generating .180 FTE per home to get the high school to full (83%) capacity of 1700 students.

If we did see that kind of housing boom, the district would likely have issues with capacity at all levels, not just at the high school.  At that point, we would need to reconvene our facilities committee and obtain community feedback about how to provide the needed housing.

One point of clarification:

Even if the school population eventually reaches the 83% (or 1700 FTE) mark, there is still available capacity.  At the 83% mark, each teacher would still have a classroom during his/her planning period with no students.  The school could accommodate additional students by having teachers work their planning period in a different location and use that room for teaching.  In other words, at 83% most of the teaching stations would not be occupied by students for one period each day.  It is difficult to determine the precise number of additional students that could be accommodated at this point without preparing an actual class schedule.  One period is 16.7% of a school day.  If only 60% of the 16.7% could be recovered by using the planning period for instruction the school could handle around 170 more FTE students.  This would put the total capacity at around 1870.

One of the difficulties patrons living in the Cedarhome area may have with the student generation rates is that area appears to have a higher concentration of school-aged children.  So, looking at averages across the entire school district area does not align with their own personal experiences and observations in the Cedarhome neighborhood.

Gary Platt, Executive Director of Business Services